Discussion moderator is like a sailing master – only the skilled and clever professional can pass the pitfalls and lead the conversation between the Scylla of controversy and Charybdis of insult. Do you want the truth to spring from an argument? Then don’t fall for provocations and follow the rules.
Prepare the participants. Most of the specialists will try to “save the face” and refuse your help in preparing for the discussion. However, it does not mean that they know what to talk about. Send them a list of topics and questions for the dispute, call and talk over the general line of the meeting.
Prepare yourself. Learn the expert names, use photos to remember the faces. Check their profiles, follow through social media, learn everything you can about the companies and the projects. Support your own professional image and respect the others. Never even dare to tell anything like: “And now the next expert will share his opinion”.
A discussion is the convenient way to organize the conversation to get the information audience desire. Remember, debates are one of the most effective ways to get the necessary data out of experts.
You are not the star, the star is not you. Your role is to help the experts. Even if you’re cool’n’clever, people are here for real heroes – for experts, not you.
Watch all the participants. While one is talking, check the others. Lots of them by mimic and gestures show their agreement or disagreement with the speaker. Give a word to the one who acts more, he wants to talk – and he knows what to say.
Let everybody speak – the some who talk a lot and the others who prefer to keep quiet. It’s not uncommon that introverts who keep quiet are good specialists who have deeper thoughts and brighter ideas than the talkative extroverts. Some experts dream of talking all on their own and not giving a chance to others, so turn on the timer mentally or count the sentences.
Watch the audience. If it’s bored, start the new theme or offer “the question from the hall”, let your attendants feel active participants, not passive beholder.
Never even try to moderate an IT discussion as a hot politic TV show. Never pit experts against each other. Let it be the struggle of ideas and approaches, not personalities.
Train yourself. Take some wine, gather friends, choose a hot theme and make a small friendly discussion. What university is the best for a child? Where to go for vacations? How to spend a bonus? How to cure flu? Hold a test roundtable discussion, learn how to “give passes,” “break off,” “swing,” “spin”, in short, moderate in full.
Never moderate something you do not understand. If you connect the “client” to the “counter” and not the “server”, consider the protocol to be “police”, and the word “rollback” you associate with the “cuisine “, and not with the “version”, then quit this business. There are 101 ways to become famous in a different way.