Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.

Bobby Unser (*1934)
Racing Car driver

Always count some preparation time plus some reserve time.
Always count some preparation time plus some reserve time.

It is not just a question of arranging the logistics of the event as a whole. You will need to break the event down into individual modules and prepare each of these in detail. You cannot just assume that moderation means merely responding to the participants. If you are not the initiator of the workshop, you will need to clarify what the objective of the moderation is. This will allow you to establish what your role should be: trainer, mediator, moderator etc.

There are four areas of preparation for workshop moderation:


All material (boards, workshop suitcase, markers etc.) are in place and ready to use and some flip charts and cards are pre-written. Do participants know what they should expect? Ensure you have from the venue organiser the necessary statements about safety and fire drills, and that you read these out at the beginning of the session.

All the different areas of logistics are also discussed in my blogposts on event management. Search according to the categories or by tag word.


Am I mentally and physically fit? Have enough sleep beforehand! Don’t eat too much and of course no alcohol! This is also part of preparation! Furthermore, you shouldn’t spend all the breaks with the participants, as you need time for relaxation and reflection.

Am I familiar with the seminar room and environment? Get a picture yourself — walk around and inspect all facilities.

What is my relationship to the participants and how do I establish it? What is the composition of the audience? What kind of conflicts or challenges could evolve? How will I react to it?


Is the topic fixed? If you had the opportunity to meet the group (perhaps during preceding sessions) how should it be adapted? Which additional information could be required?


Is the planned moderation technique suitable? Which sequence should be followed, which questions asked? How much experience do participants have with this type of moderation technique? What should the balance be [see Six Balances in a group] in regard to the audience?


There are good reasons why in the operation theatre or in aviation checklists are used. So why not us? Especially if you tend to stage fright it is a good and reassuring feeling to have gone through the checklist and to know: everything is organized or on its way.

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