I used to think that anyone could rotate into the moderator position for a Forum, and because of the systems I put in place, things would be fine. But I’ve changed my mind.
As I’ve mentioned before, the moderator is in charge of the overall direction of the Forum. They set the agenda for the meetings and pick activities. They also manage various behind-the-scenes conversations with all the other members. In short, they are the captain steering the ship.
I can give someone a great agenda, tell them to grab the void in the conversation, channel their inner Gary Vaynerchuk, and pick a thought-provoking warm-up question, but at the end of it all, there are still parts missing that I’m not sure I can train someone on. It’s leadership presence.
I’ve noticed that some people are just better at leading small groups. They have a leadership presence with the group that is made up of EQ and IQ. They can read the room’s energy, they know when to jump into conversions with a great question, and they know how to gracefully cut off a chatter mouth. The list goes on and on and is filled with so many small group facilitation nuances that it would be challenging to train.
I used to let anyone self-select into becoming moderator, but now I go through a full meeting with the group and based on my assessment of seeing them all interact with each other, I nominate someone to take on the role. That way I know that by the time I’m done training the group, they will be in good hands with a good moderator to guide them.
The process of picking the right moderator is critical in newer groups, but I also suggest that more established Forums don’t just hand the role to the youngest person.