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Leading a meeting or event is like composing a piece of music. Only by conducting with the right tone, pace and style, can you be effective as a moderator.

Just listen to any random piece of music, whether that’s Beethoven, David Guetta or Rage Against the Machine (RATM). Of course, tastes differ, but every piece of music, no matter the genre, has a structure.
To the casual listener, Killing in the Name is just a loud rock song. But when you analyse it, you see that RATM are in fact playing with tone, pace and style. At the end, you know you’ve listened to something that has a certain cohesion, yet there’s strong variation within it as well.
And that’s how a good moderator approaches their role: bringing rhythm and variety to a meeting or event.

A common misconception about our work is that good moderating must always be high tempo, fun and entertaining. When people say a meeting or event needs to be dynamic, they usually mean it needs to be dynamic all the way through.

At Masters in Moderation, we expect our professionals to be capable of showing range. And in our Moderator Workshop, we challenge the participants to experiment with this.
Sometimes a slower, more contemplative and inviting opening works best, followed by a lively, fast-paced session during which agreements are made. Sometimes the objectives of an event are best achieved by starting with a short and snappy stocktaking, and concluding with in-depth research with plenty of time and space for arguments.
What never works is a fully monotone approach. Taking an open, slow-paced and rewarding approach all day long will soon put people to sleep. And no one can keep up with a relentlessly cheerful, high-energy and entertaining moderator.

So, in short, find a moderator that best suits your meeting or event. And ask the moderator to vary their approach. It’s these conscious decisions that lead to real results.
This requires a moderator that knows their own default settings and can play around with them without trying to be someone else.

Jan-Jaap In der Maur

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