Moderating Runaway Talkers: 8 Reasons to Hone Your Skills for Equitable Discussions


In this 5-minute video, three moderators take center stage for a lively role-playing session:

  • Discussion on managing excessive talking or off-topic discussions in a group setting.
  • Watch as Linda and Charity role-play scenarios featuring individuals who tend to dominate discussions during meetings.
  • Strategies suggested include gently redirecting, setting time limits, and acknowledging the speaker.
  • Emphasis is placed on maintaining equal speaking time for each participant to ensure a fair and productive discussion.
  • Jolene recommends practicing different approaches in small groups to develop effective moderation skills.

In group discussions, steering the ship of moderation can be a powerful skill that not only keeps conversations on track but also ensures everyone gets to join in.  Skillful moderation, executed with finesse and respect, can redirect conversations that veer off track or become dominated by a single voice. This skill is crucial for cultivating equitable group dynamics.

Moderating isn’t about stifling voices; it’s about striking a balance that allows every participant a chance to contribute meaningfully. With practice, one can develop confidence in using moderation techniques to guide discussions back to their intended direction. This article gives you eight compelling reasons why practicing moderation is worth it. From skill development and confidence building to time management and conflict prevention, each aspect contributes to fostering an environment where discussions are not only productive but also respectful of everyone’s time and input.

Phrases to Interrupt and Redirect 

  • “You’ve gone over time, so I’ll have to cut you off there.”
  • “One of our rules for the group is that each person takes the same amount of time, so I have to stop you there.”
  • “Unfortunately, you’ve gone over the allotted time; we have to go ahead and move on.”
  • “You’ve made it hard for me this time; we have to go ahead and move on.”

These phrases are polite yet firm interruptions, emphasizing the importance of adhering to time constraints in a group discussion.

Reasons to Hone Your Skills for Equitable Discussions

1. Skill Development: Mastering moderation while maintaining a positive and respectful tone is a skill honed through practice, allowing individuals to adeptly steer discussions.

2.Confidence Building: Practicing moderation techniques helps individuals gain confidence in addressing challenging situations assertively yet diplomatically.

3. Adaptability: Different discussions may call for variations in moderation approaches. Practice enables individuals to adapt their techniques based on the context, the personalities involved, and the overall dynamics of the group.

4. Effective Facilitation: Facilitators play a crucial role in ensuring discussions remain focused and productive. Practicing moderation techniques enables facilitators to navigate disruptions smoothly, guiding the conversation back to its intended direction.

5. Time Management: Encouraging equal speaking time is essential for maintaining a balanced and inclusive discussion. Practicing moderation phrases related to time management reinforces the importance of respecting allocated time for each participant.

6. Group Dynamics: Understanding how to handle interruptions contributes to positive group dynamics, preventing frustration among participants and ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

7. Conflict Prevention: Skillful moderation can prevent conflicts that may arise if discussions become unstructured or if certain individuals dominate the conversation. Practicing moderation techniques aids in conflict prevention and resolution.

8. Professionalism: Using well-crafted moderation techniques demonstrates professionalism. It shows that the facilitator or participant is considerate of everyone’s time and committed to maintaining a focused and efficient discussion.

In summary, practicing moderation techniques is a proactive way to enhance communication and facilitation skills, fostering a more productive and respectful group dynamic. I have witnessed many times where the moderator did not have these skills, and it is excruciating painful to sit through a meeting such as this. Get practicing. It is tough and it is possible.

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