Moderating Meetings

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We call those individuals "facilitators" to distinguish them from "moderators" that one finds in panels.

Beyond “try to enforce the speaker guidelines", the facilitator of AC sessions is expected to:

  • Watch the floor, and the IRC channel (for q+ or comments that are questions to be raised), for people wanting to ask questions or comment.
    • protip: add to the IRC channel queue those who queue up at the microphone so that the order is the fairest between those in the room who stand up, those in the room who wait for their turn, and those who participate remotely.
  • Recognize commenters who have not been heard from or who are most likely to move the conversation forward; relay messages from IRC (translate), make sure microphone is sent around
  • Keep time.
  • If a session promised or implied time for questions or audience dialog, make sure there is time for that dialog or those questions.
  • Ensure the session stays on topic.
  • Ask the speaker to slow down, expand acronyms, explain obscure references or culturally-specific references, etc.
  • Intervene to clarify a point a speaker/commenter makes that may not be widely understood by the audience.
  • Keep the peace: end exchanges that get overly emotional/personal.
  • Try to identify points on which there is consensus.
  • Use show of hands/straw polls/humming/whatever to assess the distribution of opinion on more contentious topics at the end of a discussion.
  • Make sure the next step and outcome of the conversation is synthesized explicitly to the audience in the end of the session.
  • Try to stop 'speeches from the microphone', long introductions to questions; ask them to get to the question.
  • Be clear whether queue management is in IRC, by standing at the microphone, or both, and if both, be fair between them.
  • Watch the IRC for problems the audience is having (e.g. questions about idioms or acronyms, speaking speed).

The facilitator should be visibly moderating – i.e. making sure the session is running well – not just walking around with the microphone.

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