How to moderate a Meeting? – Prepare your Meeting perfectly! (PT 1-3)
Okay, so you have to moderate a meeting and chances are high you have either never done this before or are curious on how to further your skills in moderation. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t have searched for this type of question. So let me share my experience in moderating meetings with you and hopefully provide some interesting methods for your practical use.
The first time I was asked to moderate a meeting I thought “Well how hard can it be, right?” They are all my teammates, so it will be pretty easy to have an objective discussion leading to a great result that’s satisfying for everyone. And boy was I wrong, it felt more like hosting a children’s birthday party than being in a boardroom. Some people were constantly looking at their phones, displaying their disinterest, others interrupted the speaker and some even took phone calls without leaving the room.
Confronted with such behaviour, I wondered what I could do to turn the next meeting into a success. So the first thing I asked my self was “where do I know great moderators from and what made them great doing their job?”
Police officers, officials, your boss?
Yeah nah, not quite the people I was looking for. But throw in some referees of a sport game, and you have found yourself a winner.
A referee’s job is the perfect description of a moderator. You have a clear objective, clear definition of roles, a set of rules applicable to everyone in the same way and a set frame in which the game takes place. Now replace the word “game” with discussion and voilà you have all the important ingredients to cook a delicious meeting, meal, meal of course.
Okay so this is where I got my inspiration from, team sports. With this in mind, we can rethink meetings or discussions in a different and very fun way. Each meeting will have individual characters with individual needs, but all of them should have the same clear goal. Since the participants have individual preferences for talking and listening, there should be a set of communication rules that everyone can understand and follow. Also, everyone needs to know their place and thus roles are very important. I mean, what if the goalkeeper would suddenly play midfield? The others on the team might be very irritated and even lose their trust to this person. And lastly, you need a clear agenda setting the frame of the meeting.
This is the structure I found to be very useful…
- Who is the moderator?
- What is the topic?
- What is the objective?
- How will the success be measured?
- Who is invited?
- What should be prepared?
- Who is responsible for what?
- When will the meeting be?
- Where will the meeting be?
- How long will the meeting last?
- Will there be breaks and if, how many?
- What are the rules of communication?
- What items shall be used and which shall not be brought?
- What is the rule about phone calls?
- and so on…
You will come up with some great additions to this list once you have answered these questions. It is important to not only answer these questions, but to communicate them to each participant beforehand. Make sure that you are sending all the information as well as the invitations to show you take your role seriously. This way everyone will be equally informed, and you strengthen your position as the respected moderator.
Preparing your meeting in such a way will give you more confidence and display you as a trustworthy person of respect to the other participants. In the next part of this series, we are going to cover the structure of the meeting and how to best setup a productive environment.
If you like this article, please consider sharing it with your network. Also tell me your thoughts in the comments below and check out my professional workplace trainings. Thanks for your attention, this is Stephan signing off and stay curious to Re:Think.