Moderating an online presentation, meeting, or event can be tricky (as many of us have learned the hard way). If you’re not adequately prepared, it can be a highly stressful and/or frustrating experience. “Overwhelming” is the term many have used to describe their experiences.
It sounds simple enough on the surface… “Just triage the questions and comments as they arise” one might think. But unfortunately, it’s much easier said than done. Especially, when multiple notifications and questions come through simultaneously. Or better yet, when a participant forgets to keep track of their mute/unmute status and disturbances ensue…
So, what is the answer? How can we streamline the task of moderating to become smooth, painless, and effective?
Unfortunately, there is no magical process or formula to ensure perfect moderation. However, through pooled experiences and research we have compiled FIVE tips and techniques you can utilize to proactively curb the chaos and increase your effectiveness.
1. Align yourself
First, take a moment to get on the same page with the presenter, speaker, or event leader before the event begins. In particular, you’ll want to know, of the many moderating responsibilities (i.e., monitoring the chat, muting participants, responding to questions, etc.), which roles they would like you to oversee. Securing a firm understanding of expectations is crucial to successful moderation. Once you’re on the same page, you can support the presenter most effectively without overstepping.
2. Determine the interaction flow
Together you must iron out the flow or process of addressing audience questions and concerns. Some presenters prefer to address questions from the participants themselves. Whereas others prefer to check in with their moderator periodically for questions. So, you might consider confirming if all questions are expected to be triaged and prioritized through you, the moderator? Or will the presenter address these themselves?
3. Responding to questions
Next, you’ll want to know whether participant questions are to be held until the end, at specific (built in) time-points, or ongoing (open throughout). This will help you to determine how and when to prioritize questions and comments.
4. Double check your settings
Another great tip is to take a minute to review the web-conferencing settings as early as possible. Make sure that they are set to your preference. For example, you might not want the system to notify you every time someone enters or leaves. Features such as this may become difficult to adjust once the meeting, and constant ‘dinging’ has begun.
5. Set the tone
Finally, the participants should be informed of their expected conduct during the beginning of the session. For example, if you’d like your participants to signal, they have a question, by using the “raise hand” feature, before they unmute themselves and begin to speak, instruct them early on. Many of us, if not most of us, are new to this virtual congregation world. Reminders and conduct instructions are very helpful to everyone because they remove any awkward uneasiness and confusion. Employing this strategy will set the table to receive the desired behaviour from attendees, making your job moderating more much manageable.