The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Finding a personal voice

It's easy for moderators to get stuck in their ways but Sweating the Small Stuff acts as a mirror and, as attendees found, a catalyst for change.

Delegates at the AQR intermediate moderation course received a as they arrived at Islington Art House last November. The surly course convenor didn’t even crack a smile as she roughly tossed name cards out to attendees. The day was not off to a great start. Luckily we quickly discovered this was the first lesson of the course, and that we’d been plunged head first into a full day of energetic, hands on, creative sessions on how to moderate even more effectively and one which, throughout, focused on the finer details of moderating.

Sessions from course tutors Caroline Hayter, Tony Laverty, Russ Wilson and Lyn McGregor each focused on different aspects of moderating. Rather than introducing completely new concepts, this was about refocusing on structure, language and approach, revisiting practices that have become habitual, and reassessing your own attitudes and perspective. We looked at behaviours that have become ‘everyday’ through a new lens.

Delegates to this course had three to seven years’ experience moderating. As such, the tone was discursive and attendees were encouraged to share experiences, comparing and contrasting approaches throughout the day. This was particularly interesting as people attended from different agencies and specialties, allowing us all to get a better insight into the broader industry.

This intermediate stage in our careers really seems to be about finding a personal voice. As Tony pointed out in his session, your approach needs to come from a place of authenticity, and different individuals will need to down-play and up-play certain parts of their natural style in order to really hone and develop their approach.

Overall, this course offered a great opportunity for moderators with a good bank of experience to pause and take a breath. Thank you to Katie Slater for convening it, the whole day was really stimulating and enjoyable.

 

Lucy Foylan
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