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Everything in Moderation

Adam Joseph attended the AQR's advanced moderation course and was not disappointed.

I attended the AQR’s advanced moderation course ‘Sweating the Small Stuff’ as a refresher to continue my professional development in qualitative insights. I expected to be in a room full of experienced moderators, all asking lots of questions, listening actively and challenging weak statements — and I was not disappointed!

One of several highlights for me was a ‘Eureka’ moment when it dawned on me that the Waiting Room at a focus group venue was a great opportunity to pre-warm up ‘guests’ (as an exercise in semiotics, we agreed that ‘respondent’ was an outdated word, as was ‘moderator’ — ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’ felt much better as quallie terms).

Only one ‘lowlight’, which was more about what was not covered on the day. I would have liked to have heard expert MROC (Market Research Online Communities) moderators talking about the differences and similarities between moderating real-world focus groups compared with virtual online communities.

The most useful takeaways for me were: the Power of Silence, and how moderators can use this effectively in a group dynamic; setting the Rules of the Room out clearly in a group, with added visual stimulus as ‘aide memoire’ e.g. Be yourself, Be honest, Be critical, Be respectful; and the respondent, sorry ‘guest’ journey before and after the group (e.g. invites, postcards, etc).

Overall, I think this was a good course that reflected well on the AQR, but please acknowledge the growth in MROCs and online moderation in training courses!


Adam Joseph
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, February 2015
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2015