facilitation and moderation training

Many of us are making our way back to the office: Out of our sweats, back in our cars, and back to the workplace – live, with real people. One huge advantage of being in-person again is the return to live meetings with co-workers, clients, and stakeholders. (No more Zoom fatigue!) If you work in a corporate environment, you’re likely highly aware at just how different in-person dynamics are from Zoom/online meetings: Managing a room of people has a completely different element when people are together in the same room, and not on a virtual platform.

If you’re feeling a little rusty – or intimidated – by being back together in-person, it may be time to polish up your facilitation and moderation skills. Being able to lead group discussions is a true craft that can have vastly different outcomes, depending on the skillset of the moderator or facilitator in charge of the meeting – and these repercussions can lead to business gains or losses, promotions, and improved outcomes. Fortunately, there are moderating workshops designed exactly for this purpose.

First off, let’s define the difference between facilitating and moderating

Facilitation and moderation are two terms that are frequently thrown around interchangeably, but in fact, they refer to two distinct processes.

Facilitation is commonly done with internal teams, stakeholders, clients, or with a mix. The key thing here is that in facilitation, the participants likely know each other, work together, or have a short-or-long term need to collaborate together. The facilitator’s job may involve leading group brainstorming sessions, ranking ideas, breaking teams into small groups, and ensuring that each person’s ideas are heard (very similar to moderating—but this is where the two go in different directions). At the end of the facilitated session, the goal is to come to a consensus on the ideas and move forward with a plan of action. They key thing to pay attention to here is that the group needs to decide on next steps, come to a consensus, or come away with an understanding of the others’ needs in a group.

In contrast, moderation is done with a group of people who may be strangers and will not necessarily ever work together or need to collaborate again. The most common example are focus group sessions, co-creation sessions, or ideation sessions with a target “persona” or user-type of a product. The moderator will also have the team brainstorm, individually write out their ideas, and the moderator will solicit individual opinions and lead a discussion. However, at the end, the goal is not to reach consensus, come to a future working agreement, or develop a plan of action. In fact, in market research sessions a good moderator will ensure that each individual’s ideas are heard separately and noted. The goal is not to reach consensus but to learn from the persona group and solicit feedback and brainstorming ideas to come up with guidance and direction on ad campaigns, product ideas, and input on existing services. The group will not work together in the future, so the moderator isn’t attempting to guide participants toward a mutual understanding or agreement.

What skills are needed to learn facilitation and moderation skills?

Group dynamics are complex – dealing with extroverted/shy personalities, ensuring that one person doesn’t dominate the room, gathering input individually first, before collectively (to prevent groupthink), and using collaborative tools and techniques are all essential to mastering facilitation and moderation. In fact, to be an effective and masterful facilitator or moderator, one doesn’t just show up and lead sessions. The best facilitators and moderators have gone through moderating workshops that help teach the skillsets, brainstorming activities, and the psychology behind leading groups. The core principles taught in a good moderating workshop format apply to both facilitators and moderators, even though the group members and outputs are different. This is because mastering group dynamics involves training in psychology, sociology, and business strategy – which are present for internal facilitation settings as well as market research moderation (focus group, ideation sessions).

Sharpen your group facilitating and moderating skillsets – it’s a great time

For those who have been working from home for the past two years, you may be surprised at how much your skillsets with groups have waned: and with waning skillsets comes a lack of confidence. If you are looking to sharpen your facilitation and moderation skills and get back to leading teams, it’s a great time to register for an in-person moderation training workshop. Whether you’re facilitating or moderating, the ideas and craft you learn in this intensive workshop – taught in real settings, with real participants – will give you the boost you need to get back in front of groups.

Interested in improving your facilitation and moderation skills? Find a moderating workshop near you >