Suggestion Two – Wear MANY hats
No group is a cakewalk, but they are fun, challenging and productive if you know how best to proceed. So, as to what technique(s) I employ, I guess I’d have to say I’m part moderator (adhering to the needs of my client), part therapist (gathering insight into my respondents’ stories, their past…what they bring to the table and breaking down walls), part friend (put them at ease, validate their concerns) and part parent (keep them on track, after all we do have a guide to get through and everyone knows there’s no dessert (their incentive) until dinner’s done).
Of course there are many other hats I wear during the course of a group but these are present at most every one. I’m good cop/bad cop, mom/dad, Frick and Frack, all rolled into one. You have to be. You need to be as flexible, agile and complex as those individuals sitting around your table.
A moderator with a monotone voice and a one size fits all philosophy need not apply. Sure, you’ll get through the moderator’s guide with that type of person at the head of the table but will you get to the heart of the matter? Will you gather honest input? Will you break down the barriers that just about every respondent enters the room with and bring them into your world enough to share space in a safe and unguarded way?