The DNA of a succesful panel

30 april 2017
Categorieën: Art and value of moderation, Best practices ... or not
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It is not that often, that our profession makes it to the newspapers. So when our queen Maxima was part of an international panel on ‘women in top positions’, the world (or at least Holland) got a rare view on the world of meeting-moderation. The picture with the article gave everyone an immediate insight in what makes a panel great … or a failure.

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To be honest: most panels are poor on content, engagement and entertainment. It is  – in our view – one of the hardest parts of moderation. Let’s analyse the picture.

Size of the panel

In our view, 3 people is the maximum for a succesfull panel … If they put a gun to your head, 4 is allowed. But if you take a close look, there’s at least a fifth person (apart from the moderator), just outside the picture on the left hand side. From experience we know, that this is too many and that with more then 4 the energy and interaction will go down. People will start fighting for their chance to say something, rather then listen and respond. And some will just give up, start staring into the audience and have a negative influence on energy in the room.
So if you need to have more then 4 in your panel, start looking for a concept to handle that problem: change the panel every few minutes, alternate the panel conversation with short 1-on-1 interviews, allow each panellist to have one private ‘commercial break’, etc.

Casting of the pannellists

A panel should be more then a random selection of speakers. And it should not be  – like in most cases – a part of the programme, where you bring everyone on stage who has to be there for a number of (mostly political, tactical) reasons, but who have no real added value to the objective of the meeting.
In this case, conscious choices seem to have been made as to who to put on stage; which is a good thing. And they even seem to have different backgrounds: a politician, someone from corporate top-management, two second-ladies. This again is positive: a good panel features people who have a different opinion on the same problem, or who look at a challenge/question from a different perspective. This may be consumer-producer-government, management-workforce-union, or whatever works for that topic.

Typecasting

A great panel not only features conflicting or complementary views, it also makes opposite personalities meet. In this case all characters seem to be there: the thinker, the anarchist, the comedian, the big mouth. Having different kinds of people on stage should be one of the issues, when looking for panellists.

The moderator

Since we don’t know the moderator of this panel, we can’t tell you if she is professional and if she’s the right choice for this particular panel. What we cán see, is that her position is all wrong. First of all, in general we like to stand and walk around. This allows the moderator to take a different perspective on the panel every now and then, and makes interacting with the audience easier (by walking over to them).
But if you have to sit down for any number of reasons, do nót sit in the middle! The moderator should at all times be able to see all members of the panel in one glance, in order to observe how they respond to each other and to get interaction going. And that obviously is not the case, here: the moderator is looking at our queen Maxima and has no way of seeing what the rest of them are doing.

Interaction

Obviously (well, we think so … but most panels do show a different picture), you want the panel to interact with the audience. But in order to get that going, you first need to get the interaction within the panel going. And that is, where most panels fail.
In this case, we fear the same problem: looking at the body language, no one seems to be dying to respond to what queen Maxima is saying. They are either politely waiting for their turn to have their statement in, or even worse: they already did and are now waiting for this panel to be over.
Basically, if you do not get the panellists talking to each other, what is the use of putting them on stage as a group? If you want them speaking one after another, get them on stage one by one!

If you dó want them to interact, there’s a few tricks (apart from not sitting in the middle). First you don’t ask all participants in the panel the same question. You take every answer to a next level immediately.
Then, you hop on to a next speaker, when ever you can: if you ask queen Maxima something, she answers. If the follow-up question could be answered by someone else just as goods as by our queen, go to that other person.
And finally, observe: you will be able to tell, who has an opinion on what is said by one of her fellow-panellists. As soon as you see someone nod, ask that person why! If you do this at a somewhat higher pace early in the panel, people will get used to them having a real conversation and soon, all panellists will feel invited to join.

Finally, if you want to know more about the art of panelling, take a look at the website Powerful Panels.

Jan-Jaap

Overcoming your instinct: the many contradictions in being a moderator

30 maart 2017
Categorieën: Art and value of moderation
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Meetings (at least the successful ones) are about change. The only way to get change, is to do things differently and to find a new perspective. For the moderator, this means being brave and in many cases, going against your natural instinct. It is a profession full of contradictions.

© Twycer / www.twycer.nl

© Twycer / www.twycer.nl

If there’s danger, you flee. If you can’t beat them, you join them. If there’s a fire, you extinguish it. Right? It’s the logical, sane thing to do. But not for a professional moderator. He or she will fight the danger, confront the opposition and keep the fire going (or even stir it up).
That is what we’ve learned over our long years of moderation. That’s what we teach our students in our workshops. That’s what we believe to be most effective in getting better meetings.
These are the most important instincts every moderator (and in his slipstream, every meeting owner) should overcome:

Serve, to be the boss: meetings are not (we repeat: not) about you, the moderator. They are about the meeting owner and even more about the participants. Yet, they need you to help make it about them and their objectives. Someone needs to take responsibility for all and to be in charge. And that person is you, mister or misses moderator!
This will leave the moderator balancing two completely opposite things: being in the background and very present at the same time. Being a leader as well as a servant. Having charisma and modesty.

Play to be serious: It is a hard to beat misunderstanding, that people only feel they are being taken seriously, if you act serious. Deep inside, every grown up still loves to play. Science shows that being playful enhances learning. So, treat serious business like fun!

Interrupt, to be polite; it is a misconception, that interrupting someone is always rude and that you should let everyone finish their statement. There are a few reasons for interrupting every few sentences. If only by asking ‘why?’, ‘how?’ etc.
The first one is: for most people, it is natural (science shows that in day-to-day conversation we interrupt each other all the time). So, it will make the interview feel more like a conversation than an interrogation.
Secondly, it will put the moderator in charge: with these interruptions, you allow your interviewee to continue or you stimulate him to elaborate.
And finally, to help the person talking to make choices: an interviewee/expert in general has enough knowledge to talk for three days. He will thank you for narrowing down the options for him, helping him keep time, for keeping an eye on the objective of the conversation or on the participants.
Basically, an interruption can be a very stimulating and effective way to have someone talk. It is nothing less than helping them tell the best possible story. Not doing that part of your job, that would be rude!

If it’s stuck, don’t push: It will happen to every moderator every once in a while, that participants seem to have no intention of interacting … whatsoever. It’s a nightmare, no questions from the audience, no response to your questions. The natural reaction is to push for engagement. And the strange thing is, the harder you try, the tighter the shell will be shut.
The trick is to accept things are stuck, to take time to reconsider, to closely observe the process & participants and then to ‘massage’ them into opening up. And that takes time and requires patience, lots of it!

Love the sound of silence: as a moderator, you are there to get the conversation going and to get energy into the room, right? But that doesn’t mean that you have to fill in every silent second, like most moderators do. There’s two reasons to love the sound of silence.
First, there’s the fact that people need time to come up with something to say or ask. After all, the speaker had weeks to prepare, as did the moderator. But participants get put on the spot all the time. Why expect them to come up with a brilliant question or reflection within 2 seconds after the speaker is finished? Please give them some time to reflect. Or even better, design space and/or work formats to help them do so.
Secondly, there’s the introverts. And there’s many of them! The easy option for the moderator is to turn to those who have no fear of speaking in public and are always ready to give an opinion. But that will prevent you from getting the input of the introverts. And beware: they are silent, not stupid! Therefore, every moderator should learn how to ‘open up’ these introverts and make them feel safe to speak up.

If there’s bad news, make them tell it: by habit, meeting owners always want to ‘keep it positive’. We tell ourselves to see the opportunities, not the problems. And that, in our view, is counter-productive. By denying bad news, negative results and awkward information, you will not get sustainable results. Potential problems should be recognised and taken care of.
By nature we want to be liked. But as a moderator, sometimes that is not the part you play. In order to learn, delegates have to be challenged. That’s why the moderators need to play the part of the devil’s advocate every now and then … even if it gets you a low grade on evaluation.

Celebrate the pain in your ass: if you want an easy ride, talk to the ones who will give you the desired response or who will come up with the ‘correct answer’. If you want a result that is feasible and supported by all, look for the pains in the ass. Because the obstinate ones, are the ones who will bring you new insight.

If it hurts, cut deeper: sometimes, a meeting will get ‘unfriendly’. On occassion, participants will get verbally hostile; with the speaker, with each other or even with you. The typical moderator’s first response will be to pacify. You want to tell people to keep it friendly, to listen to each other etc. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, that will only make things worse. Telling someone who’s angry that he can’t be angry, will only make him angrier. So, the trick is to allow it to happen. Maybe even to arouse some more negativity at first, for instance by asking questions. And then at some point, you will find that the energy and the anger will fade (a bit). At that point, you’ve gained the trust of the audience and they will be open to talking in a more civilised way.

Be radically neutral: we all have opinions. And we express them by speaking up or in our body language. A moderator nevertheless needs to hide his/her opinions. For the simple fact that the meeting is not about you (do we have to keep on saying this?). And by showing your opinion, you might alienate some of the participants from you, preventing them from taking full part in the conversation.
Does this mean you can’t be provocative? Not at all. Simply make sure that if you introduce another opinion or viewpoint, you make it clear it is not yours. You should stir things up, but not by having an opinion or by taking a position. You do it by being on everybody’s side and by addressing all perspectives

Chaos is good: Like any human being, moderators love it when things go smoothly, in a predictable planned fashion. But is that effective and engaging? Not always. Create streamlined chaos, rather than fight it!
For instance: if you have participants talk to each other about a subject, it might be hard to get them to listen to you again. And that’s great! It simply means they are ‘on’, so you should be happy with this chaos.
Another example: at some point in the day, you feel energy is getting low. You can choose to simply execute the agenda as planned and hope it will get better … which it probably won’t. So, instead how about changing the seating, the order of speakers, the format. Will that be chaotic? Yes! Will it raise energy? Yes!

Know, but don’t tell: as a moderator, you need to be very well prepared. You need to know what’s going on and you need to have all the information, to be able to help participants reach the objective of the meeting.
But in the heat of the moment, you need to keep yourself from showing how much you know. Because the meeting is not (Yes, we will keep on repeating this) about you. Because showing off irritates people. Because showing an opinion based on your knowledge might alienate you from part of the audience.
What you can use your knowledge for, is to ask the right question at the right time. It will make you look an intelligent moderator, not a fully informed expert. And that’s how it should be.

Forget time, to be on time: Yes, of course one of our main jobs it to keep track of time. But that doesn’t mean: execute the schedule to the exact second. Time should be on your side.
Being a moderator means timing, without the pressure of time. You need to design and execute for a smooth rhythm, time to breath and think. You need to be aware of the designed programme and at the same time be flexible enough to change the timetable, if the objective requires that.
Constantly emphasizing time makes the day feel ‘tight’. By managing time (in cooperation with speakers and event managers) in a more subtle way, people will feel they have ‘all the time in the world’

In conclusion: sometimes the long way home is faster. On occassion the high hanging fruit is tastier. And Confucius was right when he said: ‘If you’re in a hurry, you need to sit down for a bit’.

Kim Coppes
Jan-Jaap In der Maur

Eubea nomination: Moderation and Meeting Design go hand-in-hand

26 september 2016
Categorieën: Art and value of moderation, News
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We are truly proud to be on the shortlist for the European Best Event Awards. Our nomination in the category Meeting Design shows the importance of the seamless integration of moderation and meeting design.
In this project, our client Westland Cheese, meeting design agency MindMeeting and Masters in Moderation cooperated like Siamese triplets. The well-coordinated efforts of all three parties were the main element in creating the success of the bi-annual Westland Family Congress: in our view, only a perfect combination of objectives, meeting design and moderation will produce real ROI

Eubea 2016

“We had the best family congress ever”, says Desiree Westland, one of the members of the congress committee. And in the process whe had so much fun!”
Every two years, the Westland family organizes a congress: family shareholders gather to face the specific challenges of a family-run business. After two – in their own words – ‘average editions’, for 2016 they wanted something special and really effective.
In charge of this years’ family event was the youngest generation of shareholders. Initially, they asked Masters in Moderation only to provide a moderator. But their openness to any suggestion was the start of a unique cooperation.

Objectives

Our first meeting was a ball: the family was full of wild, creative ideas. We loved it (and them). Nevertheless, for the time being, we asked them to forget about themes, formats and so on. We convinced them into formulating clear objectives first.
So the moderation started way before the actual event – as it should be. Working with the Event ROI Institute’s methodology, we discussed in depth, what the congress committee wanted as the ROI of this meeting,
As part of the process, we individually interviewed a carefully selected group of ‘average’ family representatives. It helped us to move from assuming, to actually knowing what the family wanted and (dis)liked.
This probably was the bravest of all steps the congress committee took. And a vital step it was in creating the right programme!

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Budget

The next important decision of this brave bunch of clients, was to allocate a major part of their budget to the design stage. So far, the family was used to start their preparations by booking a 5 star venue & hotel with top-quality food.
In this case they did not book a venue until the requirements were absolutely clear. We first defined what environment would help the moderation of the meeting design most, and only then booked De Kapellerput. Which by the way turned out to be the best venue ever: they really understood the programme design and went out of their way to help us do a perfect moderation!

Design

Once the objectives were clear, we were ready to start designing. As a moderator, meeting design is a natural part of your profession: you know from experience what works, so you are well equipped to advise the meeting owner.
At the same time, you need to know the limits of your skills. So in this case, we decided to bring in a sound dose of specific meeting design power. And because we wanted the best, we cooperated with MindMeeting’s Mike van der Vijver; ranked among the world’s best meeting designers.
And so the Siamese twins became triplets: the Westland family added their insider knowledge and enthusiasm, Masters in Moderation added their content & concept power and MindMeeting offered their immense creativity and sound methodology.

In two meetings, Mike van der Vijver guided us through a brilliant process. The family turned out to be very perceptive to his method of brainstorming and moulding of the programme. In the end it was Mathias Westland, who said: ‘it feels like we are organising a first day in primary school’ … and thus the experience concept was born!
Having obtained the necessary input on objectives, experience and content, Mike started designing. And moderators as we are, Masters in Moderation helped him, by being a sparring partner. Mike said about the process: “It is rare for a client to have the courage and the commitment to get the design process right. The congress committee evidently trusted Masters in Moderation so much that they were incredibly easy to work with.”

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Execution

The execution phase was one of true co-creation. The family did the better part of the actual meeting planning: they found the ideal venue and decorated it to perfection, in line with the desired experience.
On top of that, one of the nieces graphically designed the family-game that was to be played as the main part of the programme (only after the participants had decided on the rules and the challenges to be included in the game) and a ‘be-my-friend-booklet’ for everyone.
Masters in Moderation set out to find the perfect moderator. Kim Coppes was perfectly typecast in her role as schoolteacher-facilitator. And the ‘class’ loved her! She truly understood the meeting design and the need of the participants. About the meeting, Kim said: ‘The format supported the content and objectives perfectly. It was designed with lots of love: imaginative and effective into every detail, and therefor a joy to moderate’.

Conclusion

In order to bring true ROI, great meetings need full integration of clear objectives, great meeting design and brilliant moderation. This project shows without a shadow of doubt, that this is the case for every event; even smaller ones with modest budgets. Or, as Desiree Westland put it: “There was a new surprise every step of the way. And every one turned out to be more effective then we could ever hope for. This project was special in every detail. We were so proud to be the meeting owners of this one”.

We can only hope that the Eubea jury will see the sweeping value in this and award us the trophy.

Jan-Jaap In der Maur

Survey explains Mastering Moderation’s popularity: “I would do the same workshop again, in a heartbeat”.

19 februari 2016
Categorieën: Art and value of moderation, News
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Kim Coppes and Jan-Jaap In der Maur trained almost 200 people in their workshop Mastering Moderation. A survey reflecting on the two years of training so far, shows staggering results: participants rate the workshop with a NetPromoterScore of 80! Or as one of the alumni phrases it: “I would do the same workshop again, in a heartbeat”.

LM groep lacht Kim

Moderation is hot. More people – not all of them being professional, full time moderators – find themselves having to moderate sessions. That’s why Kim Coppes and Jan-Jaap In der Maur started a professional moderation-workshop, allowing all to learn and apply the basics of effective moderation.
From the first edition up till today, almost every workshop is completely sold out. Participants of incompany trainings and open workshops are happy every single time. An Alumni stated: “I have never learned so much in two days”.

NPS score 80

A recent survey revealed the relevance, quality and effectiveness of the workshop. Not only did it score an extraordinairy NPS of 80, also over 70% of the participant rated the training with a nine or even a perfect 10, while 7 was the lowest score.
Participants value the high amount of practise and personal attention. They called the workshop original, playful, engaging, effective, direct applicable, memorable and even ‘a profound experience, that changed me in my personal and professional life’.

LM JJ gesticuleert

On the impact of the workshop, the delegates judged it to be on average 4.3 out of 5 on several elements, leading to testimonials like: ‘The feedback was honest and instant. There were so many skills, you can apply straight away”.
Many of the participants called it the best training experience ever. ‘And I’ve had a lot!’, says one. The vast majority indicated having learned new things, having improved their moderation skills significantly and having been able to implement the learnings. A happy attendee found: ‘this course is still resonating with me, and I’m using skills learned everyday’.

LM Kim lacht

Perfect trainers: 64%
The quality of trainers Jan-Jaap In der Maur and Kim Coppes proved to be an important ingredient in the effectiveness of the training. No less than 64% gave Kim and Jan-Jaap a perfect 5 out of 5, leaving 36% not any lower than 4 out of 5.
The participants spoke highly of their passion, creativity, personal attention, engagement and fun. The most special quotes were: “training isn’t a skill, it’s a state of being. The trainers were not training, they were helping’.

LM deelnemer in actie

Succes explained

After being overwhelmed by the succes at first, Kim and Jan-Jaap now have a good idea on the reasons: “Meetings are changing, for one: from speaker oriented to engaging, interactive and crowd-based. But as a whole, our society is changing, from top-down to bottom-up, to a more cooperative one. And that means that in every part of society, there’s more to be discussed. And that means that civil servants, employees of large organisations, well almost everyone finds himself moderating more often. Dialogue, we feel, is the basis of the next generations. And moderation is the basis of succesful dialogue”.

 

Jan-Jaap In der Maur

Dutch moderators are hot. Here’s why.

14 januari 2016
Categorieën: Art and value of moderation, Meet our moderators
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Dutch moderators are hot (and so are Dutch speakers, judging from the line-ups of many international conferences and tradeshows). Why is that? It must have something to do with the latest developments in events industry. Here are 8 characteristics of the ‘Dutch school’, closely tied to the new era of meetings.

Vlag NL

Meetings are not the same anymore. No longer do participants want to sit back and listen to speakers for hours at a time. It is about engagement, nowadays. About cocreating, gamification, interacting etcetera. Well, you all now the buzzwords.
This new way of meeting is something the Dutch have been doing for centuries, already. Our national soul makes us perfectly suited for this new way of thinking and acting. That is exactly why Dutch moderators (and those from other countries, who have Dutch Moderator-DNA) are so popular with international meeting owners, meeting designers, event managers and foremost: participants.

Whatever his passpost says, you know a moderator is from the ‘Dutch School’ when you see the 8 determinators.

Allergic to authority:
modern meetings are not about the boss telling the people what to do, how to act and what to think. It is about everyone doing what he does best. It is about taking responsibility and bringing added value to the group and the process.
Dutch moderators were raised in a society where there’s respect for any individual, but not for the simple fact that someone has a long function-title or a uniform persé. I mean: our Prime Minister comes to work on his bicycle and doesn’t mind people calling him Mark. But we do respect him!
That is what makes the Dutch School moderators perfectly suited to facilitate the new kind of meetings we see around the globe.

Open minded:
The Dutch are open to any suggestion. No option is too crazy beforehand. They – in general – are perfect brainstorming in the flesh: let’s dream first and come up with the ‘yeah, but …’ later.
This is exactly what modern meetings do: listen to each others ideas and views, without judging them upfront. Dutch-type moderation is about non-judgemental dialogue, instead of biased attitudes.
Does this mean, the Dutch will accept any wild plan? Not at all! Because they are at the same time open minded ánd a little bit conservative; old fashioned even, maybe. That is what makes them perfect moderators.

Non-directive:
In the ‘dark ages of meetings’, objectives where not something to argue about. If the boss had decided we need to go left, the only job for the moderator was to have the attendees say ‘yes’ … and if they secretly thought ‘no’ at the same time, nobody cared.
Today, everything is changing. Meeting owners know that – though having clear objectives is key – there has to be room for changing directions, updating ideas & views etc. The goal may be clear, the route to get there may change along the way.
The moderator in this case is the sherpa: knowing the terrain, but listening to all-in the group. The modern moderator will be strict on the objective, but flexible on the process at the same time.

Cooperative:
Holland is famous for its ‘poldermodel’: trying to solve any problem in cooperation and by consensus first. It probably has to do with their joint fight against the water; hence the name ‘poldermodel’: the polder being land made from water, being below see level.
This is in perfect parrallel with the modern meeting: dialogue over debate. Finding common ground, shared interest – even the truth if you will – over arguing and fighting.

Engaging:
Nobody in the world speaks Dutch and Holland is too small a country to be a superpower. Yet they ruled the Seven Seas once and are the smallest country to be succesfull at many sports. Why is that? I think it is due to the fact, that the Dutch are outgoing and not afraid to talk to and have fun with anyone. We have to, if we want to make any impression on the world
So, as a result the Dutch are not afraid to be on stage. And they love to talk to other people. The Dutch are funny (at least, I think so), lighthearted and entertaining.

Modest:
although the Dutch may appear somewhat arrogant at first glance, in fact they are very modest and serving. And that is exactly what a good moderator needs: be in charge and visible at one hand. But know that this show is not about him at the same time. Servant leadership is in their genes.
The Dutch do not want to rule the world, they want to make make it more beautiful. And they do not want to make it more beautiful singelhanded, but love to empower others to do so. The typical Dutch moderator is not looking for power or credits. He’s looking to help others achieve … like a parent raising a child.

Cooperators:
The Dutch moderators are not ones to simply do as they are told. They – like their fellow countymen – like to challenge everything. They see themselves as more then simply being the one who makes things runs smoothly on stage.
They know about ROI. They know about Meeting Design. Both these recent developments in our industry are in safe hands with the modern moderator. He or she will have a deep understanding of what you – the meeting owner – are looking for. And he will be able to help you finetune – or even design from scratch- using all his professional experience in group-ineraction

Frontrunners:
Being a small country, makes the Dutch agile people: they love new developments and will start using them immediately. So bring on Hybrid Events, Gamification and  … whatever is yet to come.

Conclusion:
Meetings are changing. And so should the way they are moderated. This requiers a different moderator-DNA. It is commonly found in Dutch moderators, but rest assured: there are many moderators around the globe who are not Dutch, but are in fact exponents of the Dutch School. Find them, and your meetings will be more succesful.

Effective moderation is about oxygen and fruit, animals and cloakroom staff

13 november 2015
Categorieën: Art and value of moderation
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Meeting formats change and get ever more complicated. Moving away from ‘speakers only’ to more interaction and engagement calls for moderation. The more complex the meeting design, the more effort needs to be put into making sure that everything runs smoothly and effectively.
Investing in meeting-moderation doesn’t necessarily mean getting a moderator on stage, though. Moderation and a moderator are two completely different things: a moderator is an individual, moderation is a holistic approach; it’s an attitude…

Leeuwentemmer

Read the full post ‘Don’t mess up your event with these moderation mistakes’ on Event Manager Blog

On a regular basis, we publish on Event Manager Blog, the leading weblog for the meetings and events industry.
All posts are written by Jan-Jaap In der Maur, founder/moderator at Masters in Moderation

 

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

Agent provocateur or cooperative connector

22 mei 2015
Categorieën: Art and value of moderation, News
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Recently, Masters in Moderation was featured in the IMEX-edition of Meeting Magazine. The editorial paints a picture of our vision on the art and value of moderation.

Our CEO’s Hans Etman and Jan-Jaap In der Maur are quoted: “Choosing exactly the right moderator-facilitator for each occasion makes meetings and events more effective, more fun and definitely more worthwhile”. Furthermore our moderators Lars Sorensen, Gerrit Heijkoop and Otto Wijnen are presented.

Wanna know more? Read the full story: Masters in Moderation Meeting Magazine IMEX15.

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The chemistry of moderation: 4 criteria to select the best moderator

24 april 2015
Categorieën: Art and value of moderation
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Chemistry is a simple thing. The right mix of elements will get you a chain-reaction, leading to whatever you want: heat, cold, light, electricity, oxygen… even explosion or fireworks. But when it comes to meetings and events, this chemistry turns out to be not all that easy.
The ingredient of moderation, for instance, is one to be added with great care. Throw in the wrong meeting-moderator and your event will turn into a tasteless, colourless and useless bowl of sludge.
On the bright side: with a few simple selection-criteria, moderation will add just that little bit of extra power every meeting needs.

chemistry

Read how to find the perfect moderator for your meeting or event at Event Manager Blog

On a regular basis, we publish on Event Manager Blog, the leading weblog for the meetings and events industry.
All posts are written by Jan-Jaap In der Maur, founder/moderator at Masters in Moderation

Moderation Design: conducting a monumental symphony

23 april 2015
Categorieën: Art and value of moderation
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The meeting-moderator is like the conductor of a symphony-orchestra: it is his job to execute the work of the composer to his best abilities and to elate the audience.
It is therefore inconceivable to image the conductor taking a look at the music for the first time, only just before he enters stage. You simply can’t imagine the director not thinking about his interpretation of a classical masterpiece.

Conductor

Just as inconceivable it is having a meeting-moderator not preparing at all and solely trusting on his gut-feeling during the event. Yet, this is still very common …

Read what a perfect ‘moderation design‘ should look like at Event Manager Blog

On a regular basis, we publish on Event Manager Blog, the leading weblog for the meetings and events industry.
All posts are written by Jan-Jaap In der Maur, founder/moderator at Masters in Moderation