Broadcast journalists often make the best moderators. They’re quick to pick up a complex topic and used to pinning down interviewees to cut through the fluff and get answers to the key questions.
A good moderator can dominate a debate effectively and independently – and ensure everyone has a chance to make their point, before summarising arguments effectively and running a good Q&A from the audience – whatever the subject-matter.
Over the years Alastair Leithead has moderated high-level debates in Bangkok, Afghanistan, Los Angeles and Nairobi, has hosted panel discussions and led briefings.
In May 2016 he moderated a High-Level Dialogue on the Illegal Trade in Wildlife Products at the 2nd Session of the United National Environment Assembly at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. Involving government ministers, EU and AU commissioners, the discussion took forward key and actionable points and brought in ambassadors and key actors from a large, invited audience.
Alastair Leithead has led panel discussions for the Pacific Council in California at the think tank’s annual conferences. In October 2013, he prompted lively debate on the topic: “Washington Divided: Political Polarisation and its impact on Foreign Policy,” bringing in guests and leading the panel. He has also participated by contributing his expertise to issues as diverse as the prevention of ivory smuggling to the civil war in South Sudan.
He regularly moderates events for the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa, most recently interviewing Kenya’s main opposition leader ahead of the presidential election.
Alastair Leithead often does presentations for UN agencies and other organisations on his role as a BBC foreign correspondent, on the subject of specific areas of reporting or regions and does after dinner speaking.