Reasons You Need a Moderator for Your Virtual Meetings
If you are running a highly engaging virtual team workshop or training session, you need the support of a Moderator for maximum success of your virtual team Meetings. The criteria I use to determine if a Moderator is needed is if I have more than 10 people. Also, I am using engagements including breakout rooms, and/or I know many people at the meeting are unfamiliar with the platform. Even a highly technically skilled facilitator, benefits from having at least one extra pair of eyes and hands to help ensure the meeting runs smoothly.
The role of a Moderator is vital and ensures a more seamless experience for all the participants. It also allows the session facilitator to be in the moment and not get distracted by the myriad of issues that can (and do) go wrong. Regardless of the platform, a Moderator is a significant player in high stake virtual sessions.
Even a talented one-person stage actor needs the support of others to manage the lights, open the curtain, and help with audience members who are having issues and if not managed, will disrupt the performance. The “show must go on” – and during the performance, the actor on the stage is able to focus and keep the act going as long as there are supportive players behind the scenes making sure everything is running as smoothly as possible.
Since Zoom is my platform of choice, these ideas are specific to Zoom, yet can be applied to other platforms as well. To be effective in Zoom, the Moderator must be promoted to Co-Host. However, if you want your Moderator to manage breakout rooms, they need to be promoted to the Host.
Here are 13 specific ways a Moderator can support the Facilitator and the team in Zoom:
- Welcome the participants and do a quick audio/visual check with them as people enter the virtual meeting space.
- If using the secure feature you must “allow” someone to join the room. The Moderator can allow each person to join. This is especially helpful when people join late, or drop off and must dial back in.
- Post questions, instructions, and/or documents into chat to support what the facilitator is saying or doing.
- Erase stray annotations and keep the slides clean if someone gets excited and starts to annotate on a slide out of turn.
- If the Moderator is also the Host, they can turn the annotation tools on and off, so they are only available to participants when planned into the design.
- Launch polls and close polls.
- If the Moderator is also the Host, they can set up the breakout rooms, launch them, and move people from room-to-room as needed. They can also pop in to breakout rooms to answer questions or to facilitate.
- If needed, rename people and merge people who are dialed in on the phone and their computers.
- Mute and unmute participants.
- Field technical issues any participants are having via private chat.
- If the Facilitator has any technical issues, the Moderator can jump in and keep things moving until the Facilitator is ready to take back over.
- Track time, attendance and the Parking Log (open issues and actions).
- Manage questions in the chat and alert the Facilitator if he or she misses them. When appropriate, they can answer questions directly in chat.
Wondering where to find a Moderator?
Here are three “no additional cost” ways to enlist a Moderator for your next high stake session:
- Ask for a Volunteer. Many professionals I know are willing to volunteer their time because they know they will learn from you or they want to build their technical skills in the platform you are using.
- Trade time with another facilitator.
- Ask the client to designate someone on their team who is tech savvy to be your Moderator.
Best Practices When Using a Moderator For Virtual Meetings
Working with a Moderator requires a proper preparation. The following actions will set you both up for success. Meet ahead of time and discuss the following:
- Review the agenda and all engagement activities.
- Confirm the role of the Moderator (both the do’s and the do not's).
- Determine a communication plan during the session. (Private chat or texting are two easy ways to communicate with each other behind the scenes.)
- Rehearse together with a small group of volunteers.
- During the session, call the Moderator by name before you ask them to do anything so they will be listening.
- Debrief at breaks and after the session to identify what worked well and how to improve on things that didn’t.
This is a learning process for all involved. You are likely not going to be in the same room, so you’ll be figuring out how to work together and learning as you go. The more you work with someone AND give/receive feedback about how it went, the easier it will get.
The effort you take to enlist and train a Moderator will be worth it when your session runs smoother and you are able to focus on the facilitation. Moreover, knowing your Moderator is handling the many issues that emerge for people in virtual meetings.
About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams and Forward, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.
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