Conferences and events with a stage program always need a Stage Manager and a moderator who prepares the audience for the next talk or show and who provides background information for the audience and ensures a smooth running event.
Tasks and requirements
The tasks of the Stage Manager are to coordinate all trades around the stage, these are usually the security people on the doors, the lighting technicians, sound engineers, cameramen and camera assistants, video production and stream production during live broadcasts. The Stage Manager keeps all trades in view and is the central point of contact between the staff in the hall as well as the production backstage. The Stage Manager decides whether the stage can be opened, if the start of the event is delayed or if the current event can overrun the time limit a few minutes.
The moderator entertains the audience in the case of delays and ensures the impression of a smooth running of the event. Furthermore, a good moderator will for example make a good joke before the start of a presentation of an less experienced speaker, to break the ice for the perhaps nervous presenter. Also, the moderator is responsible for announcements and information to be given to the audience.
At the Chaos Communication events (Congress every winter, Camp every 4 years in summer), the two roles of the stage manager and the moderator are traditionally held by the same person. The title is accordingly no longer stage manager or moderator but is during these events the “Herald”. From Heralds it is expected that they can exercise both roles at the same time without the audience noticing that the Herald has other objectives besides the moderation.
Since 2013 I’m not just a Herald, but I teach the necessary skills to new heralds and accompany them during their first shifts. If necessary I jump in and help them. Also during the event I check on all lecture halls regularly and see if the Herald there may be overwhelmed, or if assistance is necessary.
Based on my extensive experience as a Herald I was asked if I could act as a stage manager on Re: publica 2015 in Berlin on one of the stages.