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Adrienne Debigare

1002 days ago
Adrienne D Ethan suggests one aspect of moderation is structural. This usually begins with the group introducing themselves. In Civic, they do icebreaker questions. Today's icebreaker: What superpower do you wish you have? 
Sands F + e.g. Ice-Breaker
Luis R Theories of moderation:
Mayte S Jonathan (doesn't have a theory): Moderation is something one apprentices.
Luis R Ethan has clear guidelines for moderation.
Adrienne D Socratic dialogue- moderator comes in with a hypothetical and gets participants to react. Moderator must be in charge of the room, and guide to conclusion. The moderator is the host, not the guest on the program. 
Strategic use of silence - mod lets a moment play out. Let it settle. Up to Mod to signal it's okay
Mayte S Have a thread of interest in mind that does not only interest you but also the audience (to the exclusion of other threads). Audience should feel that an event has a beginning, a middle and an end. 
Luis R Anything that happens in the room is the moderator's responsibility. Moderation is a way of dealing with eventful, uncertain, emergent human interaction. As JZ puts it, the "grinding" of human interaction.
Mayte S Ethan: 
Moderation is an artform. There's a Berkman style ;) Allen Gunn - Aspiration Collective, anarchist organizers (The Ruckus Society).
Adrienne D Berkman style is more performative, Ruckus is more about collaborative conversations 
Sands F Take ownership of the stage and the space. 
Mayte S Moderation requires preparation: who's around the table, what are people's strengths and weaknesses? 
Sands F Ask people ahead of time to prepare 5 minutes and think about what they're going to say.. 
What are the goals: Audience entertainment, fairness, balancing silent people vs. other.
Attention is key. Be the one person in the room that is listening to the speaker. Signal to them you are doing this. Summarize what they just said. "I love the point you just made about this." Signaling to the audience you're getting something worthwhile as well.
Backchannel was scandalized about comments by the speaker. Speaker and moderator were not aware of this. As event owner, should have intervened, but had to patch it up later. 
Theory of "Total Event Awareness". 
  • Following hashtags on phone. 
  • Having allies in the audience. 
  • You have to own the virtual room as well as the physical.
Virtual awareness is difficult / at odds with presence in the room. 
Use tool of humor to diffuse tensions (as the first card). Acknowledged in the official stream. Naming it may be of benefit. 
The audience is in the room, in the digital room, and on the stream at the same time. Constructing an event for all of them is a goal.
Terrible mistake to think as moderator "This is great, I don't have to do any preparation!" You have a set of people you have to get the best out of. 
Difference between speaker and moderator is, not the job as a mod to be an additional speaker. You may feel the urge to weigh in with the best point. If you aren't representing the audience, you are abdicating your real role. Sometimes this means letting good points go. You are representative and liaison to the audience.
If you're listening/thinking/speaking at the same time, how are you paying attention also to the same room.
JZ: Tension between total focus on the conversation, and scattered attention.
WEB: Hashmods are used at Theorizing the Web, in cooperation with the 
JZ: Charlie had a bug in his ear for previous moderation talks.
CN: Valuable for when people would feed him jokes. 
JZ: I prefer no preparation to a lot. Talking points can come in. Better to have an over dinner style conversation (unless you're working with academics who are presenting their work). 
CN: Psychological perspective. 2 things going on:
  • Authority structure
  • You expect an authority in the room.
  • If there is none, there will be a fight and try to take control.
  • Not necessarily in control and talking to much.
  • Argument structure
  • In parallel.
SMWAT: Preparation problem. JZ does a lot of preparation in advance to seed the conversation.
JZ: Often with help. Nervous about ice-breakers. A bit performative. Everyone thinking of theirs instead of paying attention. 
  • Know the bios of the people in the panel.
  • Try to elicit from them something personal. Prompt them.
  • Ask follow-up question.
  • Go for the delta. What's the set of questions that they're not used to answering. The low-hanging fruit is hanging low for a reason. It's what people want to talk about. But some of the best events keep the speakers on their toes.
EZ: What is it you're looking for out of the event. How do I get something out of these speakers no one else has gotten out of them. 
  • You may have professional relationships with people. You want them to look good.
  • Usually you are not a person that set up the panel. Part of prep is understanding the thread the person who did was trying to set up.
Ok with scripting the first half-hour. Second half-hour can be open. Engage with someone directly; reserving the first question and use the remaining half hour for the discussion
JZ: I would try to shoe-horn that starting 5 minutes into the intro. Flexibility of a conversation w/out handing the mic to them for x minutes. 
WEB: Power dynamics in the room. Being a woman as a moderator is a challenge (e.g. being talked over, etc.)
JZ: Keeping track of who had their hand up is a responsibility.
Having really good acoustics helps. You can have the mic and hand it to people. People want to talk over administrative.
Post-mortem after an event w/out fear of offending the moderator/speaker(s). 
  • 'What you want out of this' is a good way to approach moderation. Part of it is a time management job. Can everyone have time to get their point across.
  • 1/n approach to balancing contributions - not necessarily in terms of seconds but in terms of meaningful content. It's an aspiration and you usually don't get there, but it's a good thing to check for. Goal of equal participation.
  • Reference people's expertise if you know people. 
  • Be explicit and recognize e.g. "I see your hand and I really want to hear from you."
  • Where there is a power struggle, humor can be a good diffuser.
  • Keep score around the table. Who haven't I heard from? Can I serve them something they can respond to?
  • Stage moderation and meeting moderation are different art-forms.
  • Share responsibility with people who aren't as experienced.
  • If you know where you're going, you gain confidence from this. 

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