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Being a moderator is a profession. If you want to be a great moderator, there are a number of golden rules. Once you consciously learn to work with them, you will grow.

Let's start with the top three. Whatever you do as a moderator, you should always use these:

  1. Show egoless charisma. Be present and humble at the same time. You are expected to take the lead, but at the same time, the meeting does not revolve around you.
  2. Listen! Listen to understand; to really hear what people are saying.
  3. Love every participant. Create an environment where everyone feels welcome. Really everyone!

The following 17 (in no particular order) are desirable. But it is almost impossible to always put them all into practice. Therefore, for each meeting, choose a few that really make a difference on that occasion. You will notice that as your experience grows, you will be able to apply more and more at the same time.

  • Make contact. Pay attention to everyone in the room from time to time. Show them that they matter.
  • Observe. Look carefully at everyone present. Read their signals.
  • Be interactive. Involve everyone in every step you take. There is no audience, only participants.
  • Know your participants. Who are they, what do they want, what do they know?
  • Have fun. If you don't like the meeting, why should they? Smile, show interest, radiate.
  • Be kind. Show empathy. Appreciate everyone - speaker or participant - who has the courage to speak.
  • Be brave. Listen to your intuition. Do something unexpected and unprepared at least once per meeting.
  • Be cheeky. Dare to interrupt and ask difficult questions. You are the expert, so dare to go against the will of the client or speaker.
  • Be the boss. Nobody speaks without your permission (even if it is only with a small gesture). This is not in contradiction with be nice. See also 1.
  • Be open. Find the elephant in the room and have the guts to name it.
  • Be radically neutral. You are the one who has to find common ground. It is not your job to draw conclusions, it is your job to help participants do so. Do this without judging.
  • Be result-oriented. Know the purpose of the meeting and the participants.
  • Design. Help your client lay the perfect foundation for great results. Know how to use interaction purposefully.
  • Be prepared. Make sure you fully understand the purpose of the meeting and the logic of the agenda. After all, you are the one who has to make it happen!
  • Be flexible. Every part of the meeting can be changed if the circumstances demand it (see also be brave and be cheeky). Unexpected things will always happen; improvise.
  • Choose. Which part of the programme has which (sub)purpose? Which tone, which pace, which style do you choose at which moment? And keep in mind: dynamics is something else than constant hysteria.
  • Dance. Be aware of your place in the space. Sit or stand, on stage or among the audience.

We will elaborate on some of these in the near future.

If you want to learn how to apply these Golden Rules effectively, have a look at our Workshop Mastering Moderation.

Jan-Jaap In der Maur

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