Guy Kawasaki posted some excellent points on moderating a panel. It's good read for anyone who is in a role of facilitation with any size of audience. I think a lot of what Guy says is useful to consider even though I believe we all have our own very personal style when moderating. I particularly enjoyed the way he focuses on the experience of the audience in his post. It is also great to keep in mind that the size of an event itself is not that relevant especially if the content is to be made available online for a larger audience, whether that is part of the process of an initiative of one of the participants (something that is less and less unlikely).
Given that I often run workshops for customers, I would add the following points to the post:
- before starting the facilitation work, make sure you are in a stable and positive state of mind that will allow you to concentrate and manage everything that can happen in a process that cannot be without surprises;
- be prepared to improvise because sometimes you are asking a question and the reply is not exactly within scope of the question but can be interesting for the process that you are facilitating. The facilitator should be able to seize opportunities even though that may change the pre-planned structure of the event. Of course, keeping a balance between the objectives of the event and the necessity for flexibility is not always easy;
- create an environment of trust by making participants feel that although some questions may be difficult to deal with, there is no risk of impact on their image or on their reputation. I think that is a critical aspect of facilitating or moderating. That's ecause when one cannot provide the incentive of a more or less public appearance with a celebrity, then all participants must know the facilitator will keep the process under control and make a clear distinction between what they contribute to the process and who they are or how good they are.
Anyway, that's my two dimes on facilitation, inspired by Guy Kawasaki's blog. Usually we achieve a hell of a lot of good work during workshops with my customers.