Surgeons do not operate on themselves. But many scientific and environment-related projects try to do just that: They present content at events and moderate themselves. Common consequences are exhaustion, a bad mood at the event, or a lack of energy for follow-up tasks.

In this post, you will learn about the advantages of external moderation.

What does moderation do?

The objective of moderation is to make meetings fruitful and productive. In this context, work already starts before the meeting and is not done afterwards. To illustrate what that means, let us explain to you how we work, which services are included in professional moderation, and how clients benefit from it. Moderation services include the following steps:

1. Preparation


Consulting on concepts

Together with you, we have a pre-meeting to determine:

  • What is the objective of the event?
  • Which organisational details are to be kept in mind?
  • Which obstacles have to be considered?
  • Which setting, including agenda and methods, is suitable?

As we have seen many times, to a lot of clients, this consulting phase is extremely beneficial. Goals suddenly become clearer, and often new, previously unimagined ideas for formats and methods evolve.

Support regarding organisation

The devil is in the detail. That is why Interessen im Fluss offers you organisational support during preparation as an additional service. Areas of support include, e.g.:

  • invitation writing,
  • event location scouting,
  • time table and material plan creation,
  • promotion strategy development for your event,
  • registration logistics planning,
  • (…)

2. Moderation

Ensuring the achievement of objectives

We have your back throughout your event. This way, you are free to focus on content or to observe and network without any stress. Based on the determined agenda, a moderator leads through the event. Adapted to the needs of the audience, they make sure that:

  • everyone has an opportunity to contribute,
  • every contribution is met with appreciation,
  • everyone stays on schedule,
  • everyone is encouraged to pitch in,
  • the debate remains constructive and is not sidetracked,
  • the event’s objectives are met,
  • results are visualised and recorded.


3. Documentation and follow-up

Recording of results

Ahead of time and together with you, we agree on how to record results, e.g. in the form of

  • a written summary,
  • meeting minutes,
  • a photographic record,
  • etc.

We provide you (and, if you want us to, also your participants) with the recorded results shortly afterwards.

Processing of results

If you want us to, we can also provide you with further material for the processing and distribution of the event’s results, such as

  • reports,
  • statements,
  • press releases,
  • publications,
  • etc.


Measuring success

Many clients would like to receive an evaluation by their participants. Interessen im Fluss is happy to offer planning and organisational support in this case, too.

We also think that internal reflection is key to a client’s own measurement of success. That is why we usually offer a de-briefing after the event free of charge. This is where you can share your thoughts on the event and provide the moderator with feedback.

When does it make sense to use external moderation for your project?

Not every situation requires external moderation (see our blog post on moderating work meetings yourself). But under certain conditions, external moderation can support target-oriented work or even make it possible. Arguments for external moderation are:

Separate roles help to prevent stress and a loss of credibility

In many scientific and environment-related projects, you are an expert in a certain topic (e.g. the impact of an invasive fish species), a representative of a cause (e.g. wanting to prevent the spread of the invasive species with the support of regional stakeholders), and a host (e.g. inviting all stakeholders) at the same time. If you have all those roles to play at an event at which you are also the moderator, the following problems can arise:

  • Contradictions between your roles: As an expert, your point of view should be as objective as possible. A good “champion of a cause” is convincing and also allowed to show emotions every now and then. As a good host, you should make sure that everyone invited is at ease, but you are also allowed to promote your own interests. A moderator, on the other hand, is not biased, makes sure that everyone can voice their opinion, and guides the debate onto a constructive path. So if you invite people to an event where you are giving a presentation, promoting a cause, and acting as a moderator at the same time, the situation is stressful for you, non-transparent for your participants, and possibly overwhelming for everyone.
  • Loss of credibility: Your participants might perceive you as being manipulative, if you are playing the roles of an expert, a stakeholder, and a neutral moderator all at once. Even if you are able to clearly distinguish between your different roles, your participants might not be able to do so.

In a worst-case scenario, unfortunate role overlaps can even cause your event to fail. External moderation can protect you from this.

Difficult meetings are guided onto a constructive path

Sometimes very difficult participants (people talking a lot, people disturbing the meeting) are expected at an event, or people representing very opposed points of view, or there is a lot of potential for emotional conflict within the group. Certified moderators have been specifically trained to handle situations such as these. A good moderator also knows when special focus has to be put on conflict resolution and when mediation instead of moderation should be used.


Workload is reduced, and you can let your core skills shine

Events require a lot of commitment. Doing all organisational AND content-related tasks yourself can simply be overwhelming.

With external moderation, you can delegate tasks in a way that makes sense. This is how you and your team can focus on the key issues and prevent unnecessary exhaustion.

Get new impulses

Maybe your meetings are going ok, but you are looking for that special “something”. Working with new methods or event concepts, moderation can give you new impulses that will revitalise your meetings.

Show that you are a professional

Hiring an external moderator for important meetings is a sign of professionalism, which will positively impress participants.

How to react to typical arguments against external moderation?

You would like to hire an external moderator to increase professionalism and to reduce your workload, but you are having a hard time to come up with a convincing argumentation? Here are some typical arguments used to lobby against external moderation, as well as our answers to them:

We do not need it!

That is often true. But not always. Because in case of overlapping roles, increased work load, difficult meetings with demanding target groups, the desire to get new impulses, or if you want to present yourself as very professional, your project will, without any doubt, benefit from external moderation.

What is the purpose of having a project coordinator / manager / assistant / etc. ?

A good coordinator’s – the term already says it – trademark is not that they do everything themselves. Coordinators have an overview over what the project needs and make sure that everything goes as successfully as possible.

Why should we spend money on this?

Because it will make meetings more effective. When you look at the hourly work rate of all participants and do the maths to determine how expensive a work meeting is, you really want it to be productive.

It is not part of our budget plan!

Projects funded by third parties can usually award contracts to third parties, too. If you can explain to your funding partner why – based on the project’s current development – external moderation is necessary / beneficial, there certainly are ways to use funds from this resource directly or to reallocate funds.

I will no longer have control over the meeting!

A professional moderator will openly talk about the client’s objectives and possible obstacles for the event beforehand; then, a suitable event setting is developed together with the client. The moderator will also keep up communication with the client at the meeting; this way, the moderator can be sure that they are doing the best possible job for the client. The use of external moderation reduces a client’s workload; they can focus on contents and use the breaks to build or strengthen important relationships. This way, an event is more likely to “stay on track” than to be sidetracked.

Would you like to try using moderation?

Of course, we are happy to counsel you on this topic. We are also available as seasoned moderators for scientific and environment-related projects. You will find more information on what a moderator does and how moderation helps in our blog post on moderating work meetings yourself.

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Any questions, comments, thoughts on this blog post?

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