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Found this online describing what a good moderator should or should not do. Hoped it would be helpful. Not all may apply here but the information I think may be helpful. 


The moderator plays a central role in the development and successful implementation of a public forum. It is the moderator who sets the context, drives the discussion, and engages the panelists and audience in an interactive dialogue. The moderator creates the tone and tenor of the program, enabling all the participants to feel comfortable and involved. Lastly, the moderator synthesizes what he or she hears throughout the program so that the discussion is focused and the themes are illuminated.


The best moderators are individuals with a particular skill at drawing people out and keeping a conversation moving along. Moderators are good listeners and assume neutral, nonpartisan roles in the discussion. Sometimes it is better to have a broad thinker as a moderator rather than someone very steeped in the details of one subject area.

Here are some qualities to look for in a moderator:

  •  Neutrality—make sure your moderator respects open dialogue and will encourage a balanced view of the issues.
  •  Authority—the moderator must manage the speakers and control the audience—timidity and gentility will not work.
  •  Confidence—the moderator should be at ease with the medium, the issues and the format.
  •  Spontaneity—even the most rigid of event formats are not immune to the unexpected, and flexible formats require fast thinking.
  •  Knowledge—the moderator should know the issues in sufficient depth to keep a response or a discussion on target—if the format allows follow-up questions, the moderator should know when the topic has been covered and when the panelists’ positions are clear.
  •  Understanding—the moderator should take time to familiarize him/herself with the goals of the forum.


  •  Employ humor if appropriate. Although the subjects are serious and heavy, there is always room for some levity.
  •  Get the panelists to engage with one another and the audience by asking what each panel member thinks of the comments of another panelist.
  •  Avoid technical discussions that veer away from the major issue.
  •  Make sure everyone can hear the panelists and the audience questions.
  •  Make sure there are nameplates for the panelists. (Don’t use name tags -- they are hard to see and don’t look professional on camera if broadcast media is attending).
  •  Use your prerogative as the moderator to ask a questioner to get to the point of the question.
  •  Use your prerogative as the moderator to clarify the question or answer.
  •  Don’t become a panelist. Try to stay neutral.
  •  Display energy and personal engagement in the program.
  •  Use a warm, comfortable style that makes people feel at ease.
  •  Be familiar with the goals of The People Speak and its format and approach.
  •  Know beforehand if media is covering the event so that the panelists are prepared.


What other tips or things are important in being a moderator?

Views: 183

Replies to This Discussion

I found this to be very informative and helpful, in both learning about what it takes to be a moderator and also understanding the challenges that a moderator undertakes. There will always be differences of opinion however opinion gives room for debate, and even a moderator will have their own personal views. It is not easy to find a equal balance when two or more people have conflicting ideas and opinions, or to moderate those differences without being seen to display some kind of favouritism between all that is being said, however it is my own belief that any moderator should have a set of realistic 'terms & rules' which all should abide by within the context of the particular programme, whilst also allowing room for sensible flexibility, and then should address any issues clearly and concisely if ever things steer off course.

One of the most challenging of things with moderating online, is that 'words & phrases' can easily be taken out of context. There is no 'voice' for example, or a 'facial expression,' which are things that we use when communicating 'face to face.'  Most people online will never meet each other, or even get to know one another... We are each just an Avatar with the ability to 'type' and that's about all. We can never know each others moods simply through correspondence online, and it these things which makes being a moderator (AND for those that he/she moderates) the most difficult challenge for us all... 'In my opinion'  


Thank you for your input CGA, IMO, There should be guidelines to follow. Some of the very best and successful forums use guidelines. 

The Gotheborg  forums are a very good example of a successful network. They have clear preset rules to follow as guidelines. If broken gentle  guidance is given to those that want to stay and be part of their group.  (By the way, so does the Ning platform that we use of rules and guidelines.) They keep focused on topic in the discussions, which is the Asian items collected. They do not permit debates on religion and politics, so the focus always remains on the objects posted. A kind well wish is not a problem. They have a general off topic area not unlike the ‘moderator’s lounge’ here on IAO. It is here they can discuss with some latitude, things other than their collectibles. Weather, sports, meetups, pets, health and death. Comments are to be made regarding the objects posted and not the poster. They also have a membership of people from all different tribes and tongues. I could go on but I think that is enough for now. 


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