Moderation is the art of facilitating a conversation with a participant, whether it’s in an interview, a usability test, or a contextual inquiry. In this article, I want to share some tips on how to improve your moderation skills. Moderation skills are essential for any UX researcher, as they can help you elicit rich and meaningful insights from your participants, while also making them feel comfortable and respected. Here are some tips based on my own practice as a UX researcher and the book The Moderator’s Survival Guide by Donna Tedesco and Fiona Tranquada (2014):
Watching Your Own Moderation
When we’re in the midst of moderating a session, it’s easy to miss the subtleties of our own behaviour. That’s why it’s so valuable to record your sessions and watch them back. You might notice that you have a habit of interrupting participants, or that your questions are leading the participant towards a certain answer. By watching yourself, you can identify these issues and work on them for future sessions. Remember, no one is perfect and we’re all continually learning and improving.
Inviting a Colleague to Observe
Having a second pair of eyes during your sessions can be incredibly helpful. Your colleague might pick up on things that you’ve missed, or offer a different perspective on the session. They can provide constructive feedback on your moderation style, helping you to refine your skills. It is always better to choose someone who you trust and respect, and who is experienced in UX research.
Practising Moderation with a Mock Participant
Practising with a mock participant is a safe space to make mistakes and learn from them. You can try out different techniques, see what works and what doesn’t, and get immediate feedback from your practice participant. This could be a colleague, friend or family member – anyone who can give you honest feedback. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll become with moderating.
Observing and Questioning Other Moderators
Every moderator has their own unique style and techniques. By observing others, you can pick up new methods and approaches to try in your own sessions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – why did they ask that question? Why did they react in that way? Most researchers will be more than happy to discuss their methods and reasoning with you.
Seeking Out Resources for Improvement
There are countless resources available online that can help you improve your moderation skills. From books to blogs, podcasts to videos – there’s something out there for everyone. Spend some time each week dedicated to learning and development. It’s essential to stay up to date with the latest trends and techniques in the constantly evolving field of UX research.
Listening to Stories from Fellow Moderators
Listening to stories from other moderators can be both enlightening and entertaining. You can learn so much from the experiences of others – both their successes and their failures. Join online communities or attend events where moderators share their stories. Not only will you learn something new, but you’ll also feel part of a community of researchers all striving to improve their skills.
I hope this gives you some tips on how to improve your moderation skills. Remember, moderation is an art that takes time and practice to master. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes – they’re all part of the learning process! Happy moderating!