10 out of 10 sucks. Give me a 5!

1 oktober 2015
Categorieën: Art and value of moderation
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Moderators are rated on a regular basis. As are speakers and meetings. There even are websites, that allow people to rate moderators. As there are for restaurants, hotels, etc.
But let’s be honest: aren’t these grades useless? I don’t care if I score 2 out of 10, or a briljant 10 out of 10, as long as it’s not clear what exactly is rated.
Here are four key factors in grading with care.

geslaagd-hoed

Grade on clear objectives
Both meeting, speakers and moderators are too often graded, without people knowing what the purpose of the meeting was. That is why moderators are so often praised for their ‘sense of humor’: because people have no clue what else to grade them for.
The key thing is to have the objective of the meeting clear, so participants can actually grade for the added value to that goal.
For example: if you know the purpose of the meeting is to harvest all perspectives to a certain problem, you will be able to tell if the moderator contributed to that. And if you know a particular interview was designed to show the human side of the manager, you will no longer say ‘it was a pleasant conversation’, but you will say that ‘you specifically were surprised by the managers compassion with his people’ (or not …).
Once you are clear on the objectives, the 8 out of 10 becomes valuable. As a moderator you no longer got this for being friendly, but for actually adding value.

Grade on clear criteria
As a moderator, I want to know what is expected of me. And I want to be graded accordingly. Sometimes that even means that a poor grade can imply having been succesful. An example: one of my most succesful performances got me a 5 out of 10. Most participant felt I was a pain in the ass, some hated me. And I was a happy man!
In this case, it was my specific role to bé the pain in the ass. The people in the room needed to be confronted with things not going well in the organisation and had to be convinced of their own part in that. And as you know, sometimes progress comes with some pain. My client hired me to be the one inflicting the pain, rather then her doing it herself. I played my part, the meeting reached its goal (briljantly, I may add) and my client was happy.
In this case, the 5 out of 10 was not a sign of failure; on the contrairy!

Grade on the right questions
Once the objective and the criteria are clear, is becomes a matter of finding the right questions. The simple question ‘did you like the moderator’ will not do, because you leave people wondering what you mean by ‘like’. And it will bring you back to grading him on his sense of humor.
A question often seen is ‘how did the moderator score on content’. Sure, it is more specific then ‘how did you like him’, but it still will not do. After all: why should the moderator score on content? In most cases the moderator is about the proces.
So, in the end the meeting owner should look for a question that says something about the objective of the meeting and about the part speakers, moderator, catering etc played in that. In my example earlier, they should have focussed  on a questions like ‘did you get a new perspective on the functioning of our company’, or ‘did the moderator help participants to value their own part in the problem better’? Would they have done that, both the meeting and myself would have been rated much higher; I’m sure of it!

Grade on needs
Bear in mind: a speaker or moderator scoring 9 out 10 on one occasion, does not make them the perfect candidate for every event, persé. Because you might have a completely different need.
A candidate scoring 10’s only on award shows would not have been the best option for the meeting I described earlier.

Conclusion
Grading is good, as long as objectives, criteria and questions are clear. So if you’re looking for a speaker, event or moderator and want to go to a ranking site, bear in mind that most grades there are useless. If you want to look at grades, make sure there is proof of what the grade represents.

Jan-Jaap