In May I signed up to the brilliant AQR Moderating Skills Workshop in London which, coincidentally, is accredited for 12 hours as part of the MRS CPD programme.

Expertly led by Ruth Preston, managing director of Peppermint Research, the course included hands-on support from three industry experts: Greig Burnside of Green Light Research; Matt Dobbin of Atticus Research and Emily Hilditch of Wonder Research. I loved this course because it covered both theory and practice with a wonderful sense of flow.

Moderating is an intense process that requires high levels of concentration and thinking on your feet. Helpfully the course covered the many and varied roles of the moderator in detail. In particular, it explains how to question and probe without influencing to get honest, well-rounded responses to research questions.

I was especially curious to learn more techniques for eliciting emotional benefits and needs. Using a variety of new tools and expanding on her own experience, Ruth left us feeling well armed with strategies to achieve this.

Another element that I was keen to learn more about, and which was well covered in the course, was how to read and influence group dynamics to work in your favour. Ruth offered very constructive feedback for troubleshooting and managing more challenging respondents.

My favourite part of the course was the practical component where, working with a live brief and a very realistic focus group setting, we had the chance to practice what we had learned in a supportive environment with direct feedback and encouragement from both peers and tutors. The process of immediately putting into place what we had been learning really helped us to cement the techniques and align them with our own personal style.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this workshop to anyone with under a year’s experience moderating, to marketeers seeking to expand their questioning and listening skills, or to those looking to sharpen their qualitative skills.