Moderating an audio conference may sound easy but that is far from the truth. In actuality, moderators encounter more problems in a conference call than they would in a live conference - be it technical or engagement-wise. Not only do they have to ensure that all participants are present in the large conference call but they also have to make sure there’s proper engagement between the speakers and the audience while the moderator oversees the discussion.
Knowing the do’s and don’ts of moderating is essential since failure to do so can put the host’s reputation and credibility at risk especially in future audio conferences. Moreover, if the moderator does a poor job, the conference will have been unproductive and may well have been a waste of everybody’s time. This is why it is especially important to go the extra mile to successfully facilitation a discussion.
Take note of these mistakes to avoid so you can ensure your conference call goes smoothly:
There’s no such thing as being over-prepared - rather, showing up unprepared is one of the worst mistakes a moderator can do. Without any preparation, you wouldn’t know what to expect or do when problems arise.
To remedy this, here are some things you can take note of before starting a conference call:
Learn the meeting’s agenda as well as the speakers’ names and their corresponding topics.
Give the agenda to the guests in advance to help produce a more productive discussion.
Make sure that each participant has undergone a tech-check and is ready for the live call.
Confirm the topic details with the speakers before the discussion.
Lay down some ground rules for the participants especially during the Q&A segment.
It’s important to do some research especially if the topic is not among your area of expertise as a moderator. Knowing everything about the topic isn’t required since you are only moderating and you wouldn’t want to overshadow the presenter.
A sample of what might be a good idea to research are questions that the audience might ask.
Being the moderator does not mean you’re the conference call’s main attraction. Avoid talking too much and remember that the audience came for the speaker/s and not the moderator. A moderator’s job is to guide the speakers. Make sure to keep the introduction concise.
Before facilitating the conference call, coordinate with the speakers first about the meeting agenda and time allotment. Confirm their topic details and the coverage of the call. It’s also advisable to contact them one by one instead of communicating with all of them in just one email as this makes it easier to fix the overlapping of schedules. Afterward, send a summary email containing the final details to all speakers.
In addition, make sure the speakers are fully comfortable and address any issue they may have beforehand. It is not uncommon for a speaker to veer off or go on for more than their allotted speaking time, so it will be useful to communicate how you can relay this to them during the conference in a discreet and polite manner. Learn how to intervene at the right time, and make sure to do it respectfully.
Make sure the audio conference starts and ends on time and ensure that every speaker is given adequate time to talk about their topic. You must also keep an eye on what participants might need and make sure they are attended to. Be alert at all times to solve any technical problems that may arise.
Being a moderator definitely isn’t an easy job as it involves a lot of duties before, during, and after a conference call. For those who are still inexperienced with moderating, they can opt for an operator-assisted conference call service. However, it’s still important to learn how to be a good moderator as it can serve as a good asset for future audio conferences.
Organizations have consistently benefited from large conference calls as it lets you connect with a huge number of people from various locations.