Stage Management and Moderation at 32c3


After several years of being responsible for Stage Management and moderation at various events, we decided to change some of our procedures of the moderation team for CCC events for the annual Congress in Hamburg.

Until now, the CCC events had so called Heralds. The Heralds were Stage Manager and moderator in one, thus fulfilling both tasks simultaneously. On the 30c3 and 31c3 we unfortunately had to see that not all heralds are able to cope with this requirement, and either the moderation or the communication with the different trades in the hall suffered.

Also the producers of the event voiced some criticism regarding the quality of the moderators on the 31c3 and the CCCamp in 2015. At all events of the CCC, there is no paid staff. All activities around the event are carried out by volunteers, the so-called “angels”. If someone wanted to be Herald on previous events, it was sufficient if that person attended an open meeting on the eve of the event and express his/her interest in being a Herald.

Planning phase of 32c3

This year we have, changed the procedure fundamentally. In early December, the “Call for Heralds” was published on the official event blog. We received about 70 applications from volunteer s for the event. All 70 applicants were asked by us to conduct a video interview, during which we threw any potential moderator into cold water and asked the person first to improvise a moderation for a (known to them) Speaker. Then we confronted our potential moderators with a hypothetical crisis situation, for example, that the Speaker is 10 minutes late or that the Speaker stumbles on the way to the stage, destroying his presentation laptop. then each potential moderator had to improvise in this hypothetical scenario.

we divided  the interviews between us in the team and documented our assessments in large spreadsheets. Experience has shown that the audience of the event (estimated) is about 70% male and 30% female. It pleased us therefore particularlythat the (scarce) majority of the candidates were women. 

Once the program of the event had been published by the content team (internally called “Fahrplan”), we were able to sit down as a team and distribute the shifts for the moderators. In previous years we had for each talk a different Herald, so that the shifts were only about 1-1,5h long. This year we distributed blocks of presentations and so ended up with an average shift length of 3-4,5h.

When distributing the shifts we had to consider the individual arrival and departure days of the applicants. In the end we came to a total of 31 moderators who had received one or more shifts.

Event 32c3


Photo by Sascha Ludwig

During the event, we conducted several meetings. There was a moderator briefing and three meetings for Stage Managers. I headed the Stage Manager meetings and explained the up to 50 Stage managers present their tasks and the specifics of the event.

During the event itself, the core team, which consisted of three people, including me, spread the load among themselves and provided in shifts the first point of contact for all Stage Manager and moderators at the event. This included that we repeatedly checked on all halls to offer support to the on-duty Stage managers, to answer questions, ensure their well-being as well as being able to react quickly in case of problems. Furthermore, we three, were the connection to the production office and relayed instructions to our Stage Managers from the production office and gave feedback on some decisions to the production office.

Photo by Sascha Ludwig

Photo by Sascha Ludwig

The core team had also shifts for moderation and stage management assigned, I took over a total of three shifts in Hall 1 (holds 3,000 people seated) and moderated various Talks, among others “State of the Onion” and “Closing Session” of the event. Overall, I was the moderator for a total of nine presentations at this event.

All Talks of 32c3 are online available.