You would be forgiven, but if you’d signed up to AQR’s Hands-on Moderating Skills course you would be wrong!

I’ve been working agency side now for nine months, after eight years client side, and while I’ve picked up moderation skills and some do’s and don’ts on the job, I thought it best to start to officially get to grips with the techniques and hone (and change) the skills I had already picked up.

From the outset the day was enjoyable and interactive, and led by a group of tutors who were not only well experienced but also a lot of fun to be around, open and honest about the industry and their experiences within it.

Throughout the day we worked in groups, working through various techniques and skill exercises from active listening and projection exercises (don’t be fooled by the chocolate bars — you don’t get to eat them) to refining a discussion guide that we had written as homework. It was just like school, but more enjoyable.

On the day our tutors were on hand to help refine and expand what we had done, setting us up for the final exercise of the day — actual real life moderation! BAM BAM BAAAAA *cue dramatic music*.

Even though I’ve done a fair bit of moderating in the last year, I found the whole process extremely helpful. Working in small groups of four, we were each responsible for our section of the guide and the exercises within it.

Aside from the actual writing of the guide, we had to be attuned to what was going on around us, actively listening both to our team members and the respondents, and working together to achieve the objectives of our mini brief. Slightly nerve-wracking, yes — especially working among your peers — but the hilarity, knowledge and self-reflection that came with it by far outweighed any negatives.

On the whole it was a brilliant and memorable experience, and I came away claiming it was the ‘best training session I have ever been on’. And if that doesn’t sell it for you, you also get a glass of prosecco at the end of the day. SOLD!