How to be a great panel moderator

Recently, I have attended a lot of events with panel discussions. At one event, I watched 8 panel discussions in a day. As the day wore on I tried to analyse what separated the good, the bad and the ugly!

Moderating the panel at the Spotlight on Japan International Women's Day event Photo Credit: LIFE14
Moderating the panel at the Spotlight on Japan International Women’s Day event Photo Credit: LIFE14

Based on my own experience as a moderator, I’ve created 9 things you need to do as a successful moderator of a panel. What have I missed?

1. You need to have a plan

What is this panel for?

An entertaining way to spend 1 hour?

Killing time before the final keynote – probably you have bigger dreams that that!

Just as with a presentation, you should think in advance of the key takeaways that you want for the audience. You might not get them all as you will always have an element of spontaneity in there with different conversations on the day.

Think about:

What are the key takeaways you expect from this session? How does it fit into the overall flow of the event or the panel series you are part of ? How do you expect your session to run? How will you allocate time on each topic. You need to share this plan with the panelists and event organizers ahead of time to make sure expectations are aligned

2. You need to think about the audience needs

As the panelist, you are the representative of the audience on the stage. It is your job to think about the demographics and what would be the most useful takeaways and discussion points. How much do people know about the topic at hand?

For me, a great moderator will help to break the fourth wall.
They can engage the audience needs either through a Q&A or directing comments to the room. They have gathered information about what the audience wants to know rather than what their personal interests are.

Personally, if I know the panelists well, it can be interesting to build them up by saying why they were chosen to participate, what you expect them to bring to the panel 

Reading out the bio is generally a waste of time as most conferences have a literate audience who can check it out if they are interested.
Opening with a few minutes of general comments around the theme can be useful but it is easy for this to become a static talking heads round robin so be sure to watch out for that.

Connect and engage with the panelists – Listen and Enjoy

3. You need to connect with the panelists

Ideally meet the panelists before the event – face to face is great, virtually is also fine! And this meeting should not be 10 minutes before the panel. Find out if they have been on a panel before? What are their expectations and how are they aligned with yours?

It is great to go through questions or themes with them. Pick up on interesting stories that show diversity of thought and experience.

As an audience member, it can feel wonderful to be a fly on the wall in a high-level conversation that flows naturally. As a moderator you need to work to develop that camaraderie with panelists before the event.

Be careful not to take the camaraderie too far though. At a recent event, I felt like a voyeur as the conversation was too intimate, too many in jokes. It almost felt like the two speakers had forgotten we were there!

4. You need to build a connection between the panelists

Can you get the panelists together beforehand? Can they collaborate on a call or a shared document? The litmus test of a great panel is when the panelists are bouncing ideas off each other, listening and building on the previous persons statements.

I’ve seen panel discussions which were a series of 10 minute PPT presentations with no interaction between the speakers and no building on the ideas raised. It’s fine to have that format for speaker presentations with lots of short speeches but don’t advertise it as a panel discussion!

5. You need to be inclusive

Is everyone speaking? How much airtime are they getting? the bigger the panel, the less people speak. Melissa Thomas-Hunt did interesting research on who speaks in meetings. With 5 people in the room, 2 people will speak for 70% of the time. When 8 people are in the room, 3 people will speak for 67% of the time. As an inclusive moderator you need to manage this. At a recent conference, I saw one speaker so completely dominate that one of the other panelists was staring at the ceiling, totally disengaged!

Airtime in meetings

In terms of inclusion, are different opinions and approaches being given airtime? Having controversial and diverse approaches supports audience learning and brings some zest to your panel.

Make sure the staging is so that you can make eye contact with everyone. Is there someone who you suspect will dominate the conversation?
One idea comes from the old adage “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer”

This can allow you to give them a nudge if they are going on too long. If you must share a microphone, you can even hold it so they have to ask for it! Beware though if they are sitting next to you, it can be easy for them to turn their back to you and not read your non-verbals. Be ready and willing to politely interrupt and give space to other people.

6. You need to be passionate about the subject

As the moderator, you need to drum up excitement and set the tone for the discussion. Bringing your own ideas to the panel is fine but “know your place” – you are not there as the only expert. You are there to bring the expert ideas to light!

However, keep your questions precise. Big lead ups where you show your passion and knowledge and then ask multiple questions, only complicate issues for panelists. KISS!

7. You need to be able to think on your feet

If you are going through the motions and sticking slavishly to your plan, you panel will feel formulaic. Listening and building on themes that become important makes a naturally engaging panel.

It is also important to know if there are any taboo topics that panelists or the event organizers want you to steer clear of. How will you handle them if they come up in discussion or in the Q&A?

8. You need to wrap up the key points

The moderators role is to make sense of the different ideas raised. You can do this after each theme or just in your concluding comments. What were the new pieces of information that were shared? What should the audience remember.

9. You need to finish on time

Make sure you have someone watching the clock for you and giving you time countdowns. It is absolutely fine to cut speakers, to guide when people go off topic.

You also need to keep your Q&A under control – reminders for single questions so more people can get involved is usually helpful. You may want to source questions before hand and plant people in the audience to get things started depending on your demographic. Remember to take questions from around the space and to be mindful of sourcing questions from a broad array of audience members.

I hope this has been a useful guide if you have a moderator role coming up!

Looking for a moderator or panelist for your next event in Japan? Feel free to contact me to discuss how we might collaborate.

Saying thanks and amplifying what’s good

Summer is over and thoughts are turning to annual budgeting, year-end parties and performance appraisals. Whilst these assessments/ appraisals/ reviews/ or whatever you call them are usually designed to motivate, many people find them a complete waste of time. However, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater! The feedback element of reviews is essential for motivation, communication, relationships, inclusion and innovation. In this post, I share 2 useful Management 3.0 practices that help to build intrinsic motivation, deepen relationship and improve communication.

Give credit where credit is due!

Recently I was reminded of the power of peer praise through the Management 3.0 Kudo Box. Let me state here I won’t get into another argument about whether it should be “kudo” or “kudos” grammatically!

All you need to focus on is that giving and receiving recognition between peers is an amazing amplifier of behaviour.

I’ve been using the Kudos Wall tool in communication and management workshops.  Simple to set up, easy to explain and participants quickly engage. It’s been interesting to see what and how people recognize the contributions of others inside and outside of the training room.

At the end of the workshop, participants self-organize and choose a “kudos star”. I won’t give away the prize totally but it does allow them to bring home the ideas of giving kudos to their team!

All members get to take home their kudos cards as お土産 , a souvenir to remind them of what they were recognized for. It can be very moving to see the reactions of some participants who have spent their career only receiving “improvement points”. They experience the impact of “catch them doing something right”.

The people I work with are senior managers, experienced professionals who bring so much to the training room. The biggest takeaway from most training is sharing stories and experiences with their peers in a safe and supportive environment. The Kudos Wall has been a useful tool to share appreciation for those activities.

Real Time Feedback

A second element that you can work on is the time lag between the action and the feedback.

I’ve been using The Happiness Door during workshops to get real-time feedback from participants at lunchtime that I can then try to build into the afternoon session.

It’s a great communication tool that allows the facilitator of any meeting to get a read of the room. You can then shift the process, focus or energy as required to get the best outcomes.

Happiness Door

In the speed of the business cycle, we often lose sight of the power of immediate feedback and miss the chance to amplify great behaviour by recognizing it. The Kudos Wall and The Happiness Door are simple ways to bring more of the good parts of performance reviews into your daily operations.

 

 

Celebrate and Innovate

On June 29th, 2018, I’m celebrating the start of my third year in business as a Facilitator and Leadership Coach. I am extremely grateful to my family, community and clients for enabling me to bring so much energy to my work, to help so many individuals improve their own performance as leaders and professionals in Japan. I’m so lucky to have the trust and support of so many wonderful people.

Thank you!

I am intensely focused on working with groups within organisations, developing cross-functional communication and deeper understanding of diverse points of view. I love the passionate discussions, aha moments and feedback about the impact the training had on team performance and relationships.

What has changed in Year 2?

  • I’ve continued to expand my knowledge base – Professional Certified Coach with ICA, Points of You® Certified Trainer, Management 3.0 Fundamentals, Tara Mohr Playing Big Facilitators Course, BerkeleyX: GG101x The Science of Happiness. Constantly learning new ideas to help clients connect the dots.
  • Developed new collaborations with Japanese Facilitators including WinBE (Women In Business Empowerment), Points of You® Japan and fellow independent facilitators.
  • I’ve been able to take on some really interesting clients and projects. I’m really able to focus on work that I am passionate about rather than what pays the mortgage. What a gift!
  • I got hooked on Spartan Racing and completed another 2 races in Japan.

 

What trends have I noticed from corporate clients?

  • Increased desire to support employees through organizational change
  • Focus on creating cultures of open and healthy communication
  • Presenting and influencing others continues to be a highly sought after skillset
  • Maturing of the discussion from diversity as a single-issue gender model to addressing wider issues of inclusion in some clients
  • Developing innovation through inclusion of diverse thought

What can you expect from me in Year 3?

Themes for workshops and support will focus on:

  • Innovation through Inclusion
  • Developing Ikigai within your Organization
  • Resilience during Change
  • Connecting the Unconnected – people, ideas or companies

To support these outcomes, I’ll continue to offer presentation skills, cross-cultural training and Points of You® Practitioner Training. My focus is on developing bite-sized development opportunities with shorter workshop sessions, on the job experiments followed by group coaching and reflection.

I will continue to support work style reform and women’s empowerment in Japan through my CSR activities:

 

Thank you again for being part of the journey. Looking forward to collaborating and learning together.

Please do follow me on Facebook or LinkedIn.  I post articles, videos and event reports regularly about training and development in inclusion, communication and change management in Tokyo.

3 tips to help working mums after childcare leave

The first signs of cherry blossoms are here which also heralds the start of a new fiscal and school year in Japan. Working mothers around the country are getting ready to enroll their children in daycare and return to work.

Here are 3 simple tips that managers can implement today to make the transition smooth for you, your employee and your business.

 

Read more about working mothers in Japan

What it feels like to return to work after maternity leave – a message for managers

Retaining Working Mothers in Japan

 

Got high potential women in your organization that you want to support?

Rethinking Strengths: Career Planning Workshop for Women

Interviews and Appraisals with Points of You (R)

Looking for a new way to engage with your team members around your core values or key competencies in annual reviews?

Want to get beyond canned responses in behavioral interviews?

Using Points of You (R) The Coaching Game, you will be able to connect with your counterpart at a deeper level. You can drill down on interviewees’ key competencies in an engaging way. Whilst some behavioral interviews can feel very rehearsed (“Tell me about a time when you…”), using the Points of You (R) cards enables you to observe a more natural response as well as to see how the interviewee responds to new ideas.

In an appraisal scenario, this process will give your employee an opportunity to talk about the competencies or values in a new way. One of the key concepts of Points of You (R) is to break patterns. The process below will help you to connect with your team member in a different way and make the appraisal meaningful from the perspective of developing your professional relationship.

As part of my CSR activities, I was invited to be a part of the British School in Tokyo and Mums in Business Classroom to Boardroom Initiative for the second year running. You can see the layouts the interviewees created below. It was fascinating to see how the two young men were able to share very honest and open personal stories of struggle and achievement through this tool.

Process Flow

Tool: Punctum Points of You (R)
Punctum cards were used as they do not have topics assigned so it is easier to connect to the specific competency discussed. They are also more

Objective: An interview/ discussion about competencies that would not be filled with canned answers, that could not fully be prepared for. The ability to “dance in the moment” to be flexible and adaptable to new situations is an essential competency in any organization.

Process:
1. List up your corporate values, competencies. Ask participant to choose from the competencies. In this case we had 30 minutes so we covered 3 of 5 competencies.

2. Pick 3 cards (as relevant to the number of competencies), face up, to link with the chose competencies. In my example 2 cards represent competencies that are strengths, 1 represents an area which might hold you back. Notice which cards are rejected, where do the participants eyes hover, how easy is it for them to choose?

3. Ask the participant where they would like to start. Empower them to lead the discussion. You will be able to see how they structure information and how they present themselves. What can they see in the picture? How does it connect with the competency and their experience? Repeat for all cards.

4. At the end of the cards, ask the participant what insight about themselves they have gained. How can they turn that insight into action?

5. Your feedback
In an interview, you can then offer your observations. How do these competencies show up in your organization.
If this is an appraisal situation, you can offer your observations as well as clarifying what resources they might need and how you can support. What action can you commit to so you can support your employee?

 


 

To find out more about how you can use Points of You (R) in your talent development, change management and diversity and inclusion programmes, contact me to arrange a trial session for a small group to see the tool in action.

What is Points of You (R)?

It’s a powerful tool for self-discovery, team building and leadership development, as well as at social gatherings and corporate settings. Played individually, one-on-one, by small and large groups, it can be easily adapted to every audience, objective and theme. And it’s fun!

Creating Inclusive Meetings with AI

Are you searching for ways to harness the innovative ideas of your diverse workforce?
Are you looking for an interactive workshop to mark International Women’s Day and increase collaboration across functions?
Would you like your team to experience a positive approach to solutions that allows different voices to be heard?

While many organizations in Japan are making efforts to increase diversity in terms of gender in the workforce, many companies feel that they are not able to truly leverage the unique views of the women they are hiring. The focus on the “what” and “who” of diversity, now needs to shift to the “how” of inclusion.

WinBE (Women In Business Empowerment) is a collective of three Japan-based
facilitators who are passionate about Diversity and Inclusion. In the month of March we want to help your company find more ways to harness the diverse perspectives of your women to inspire innovation.

What’s the workshop about?

In this three hour workshop, 10-100 of your employees can connect across divisions,hierarchies, gender and nationality. Using the Appreciative Inquiry approach they will create an Inclusive Meeting framework prototype that is unique to your organization.

Appreciative Inquiry is an asset-based approach to solutions that opens up your team to new ideas and perspectives. Workshop participants will discover how your organization can utilize existing strengths to develop further diversity and inclusion.

The workshop output will be a prototype design of ways that your organization can run meetings where innovation can be fostered. Meetings give voices to the diversity of thought, backgrounds and perspective. These meetings represent a different way to approach ideas and will move away from the status quo. As a follow-up activity, teams can implement in their work groups as a pilot program.

Who should attend?

The program is designed to be flexible in terms of number of participants with a minimum size of 10 and maximum size of 100. The facilitators can deliver in English and Japanese so can support an international audience. The workshop can be run across functions to increase collaboration and internal networking

Why March?

March is a busy time in many corporate calendars in Japan ahead of a new financial year as well as preparing for new graduate onboarding in April.
However, March also brings many different times when we think about women and their role in Japanese society.

We start with Hina Matsuri on March 3 rd where we pray for the growth and happiness of young girls. On March 8th , we celebrate International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is #pressforprogress.And then on March 14th, there is White Day, where we repay the giri chocolates received a month before.

WinBE would like to leverage on this awareness. Instead of marshmallows and cookies, help your organization to empower your female employees to drive growth and innovation by creating meetings where multiple voices can be heard.

We are currently taking reservations for a limited number of workshops in March,
please contact Jennifer Shinkai for more information in English or Hiroko Shinoda for more information in Japanese.

About WinBE (Women in Business Empowerment)


WinBE is a collective of three Japan-based facilitators, Setsu Suzuki, Hiroko Shinoda and Jennifer Shinkai, who came together after meeting at the 2017 Global Summit of Women. As a trusted third party, we work with organizations in Japan to develop workplaces where high-potential female leaders can drive business results and contribute to innovation across products and solutions. With our backgrounds in coaching and global leadership development, we co-create solutions with our clients to develop inclusive workplaces.

We are currently taking reservations for a limited number of workshops in March,
please contact Jennifer Shinkai for more information in English or Hiroko Shinoda
for more information in Japanese.

アプリシエイティブ・インクワイアリー(価値を認める手法)を使って組織の価値を見つける

国際女性デー(3/8)にちなんで、3月に女性の多様な意見を組織活性に活かす方法を体験しませんか!ダイバーシティ戦略を進めているが、まだまだ女性の意見を活かしきれていない。義務感でやっている、他人事のようにぎこちない。といった声は多く聞かれます。

そこで、私達WinBEがご提案するのは、一人ひとりに隠れている価値や意見を引き出し、違った意見をどうやって融合していくかをとことん追求していきます。まず個人の価値を見つけ、それらを組織の価値として見つけ出していく過程に、チームの対話が生まれ、アイディアがどんどん湧いてきます。何より自分ごととして実感するので、それを自分の職場に持ち帰り、真のダイバーシティの実践として結びついていきます。

今回は3時間のワークショップで、その醍醐味を味わえます。

実地規模  : 1つの企業・団体から10人以上100人まで

  • 対象者   : 性別・役職関係なく参加できます
  • 時 期   : 国際女性デー(3/8)のある3月
  • 期待できる効果:
    • 自分の価値に気づく
    • チームの価値に気づく
    •  異なる意見を受け止め、新しいアイディアを思いつく
    • 自律的な行動に結びつく

※参加される企業の目的に合わせて効果は変わります。

  • 主催者   : WinBE

WinBEは、3人のファシリテーター、鈴木世津、ジェニファー新開、篠田寛子で構成されたチームです。大変能力の高い女性リーダーがビジネスの現場で成果を出し、革新を産み出すことに貢献できるよう第三者ならではの客観的な立場でサポートします。コーチングやグローバル・リーダーシップという手法を用いながら、ダイバーシティ&インクルージョンを実現する職場を実現するためにクライアントとともにその解決策を共に創りあげます。

●申し込み締め切り:2018/2/28

●ご連絡先

英語でのコンタクトは、jennifer@jennifershinkai.com まで。

日本語でのコンタクトは、  creo.coach@gmail.com まで。

The Four Tendencies – Book Review

How do you react when you see this type of sign in your office?

images

(Image credit Essendon Creative)

You really have to love the use of comic sans, capitals and five exclamation marks. But more importantly, according to Gretchen Rubin’s recently released book The Four Tendencies, your reaction will say a lot about how you respond to expectations. This will go a long way to helping you to understand how to “make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.”

Flash evaluation for the Four Tendencies

Answer this question and chose the answer that is most relevant to you

“How do you feel about New Year’s Resolutions?”

  1. Enjoy and keep them  – and not just at New Year – Upholder
  2. Will make and keep  resolutions but believe Jan 1 is an arbitrary date and it is inefficient to wait – Questioner
  3. May have given up on making New Year’s resolution as you have failed so often in the past – Obliger
  4. Don’t want to be bound by resolutions – Rebel

If you want to explore more you can buy the book via my amazon affiliate link or take the online test.

Self-awareness game changer

 

Discovering the tool was a game changer for me – a classic obliger, I realized that my need for external accountability is huge. I know now that when I want to get something done, I need an external deadline, someone else counting on me to show up or do something.

I realised that this is why I love to join groups and organsie things for others. Spartan race, Lean In, being a member of a running club, running Tokyo Marathon to raise money for NPO resiience. All of these are examples of me getting stuff done by using outer expectations. It’s too easy for me to break promises to myself but not so when other people are involved.

How to apply The Four Tendencies framework

1. There is no hierarchy of tendencies

Other tendencies tend to think that being an upholder is the “best” –  self motivated, gets stuff done, focused etc

But there is a dark side to Upholders, as with all tendencies. Upholders will “uphold” without any thought to the impact on others. Even if it inconveniences a others, the upholder will keep to their plan. We’ve all had that person who simply couldn’t find anything on the menu because of their diet plan and makes it difficult to find a place to eat as they can’t change it even for one meal.

The power of the Four Tendencies model is in knowing your tendency or those of people around you and using that self awareness to create habits in a more effective way.

2. Motivation tool for managers

I have used the tool with management teams who discovered how to support their team members in reaching goals. Giving a vocabulary and a deeper understanding to what motivates your colleague and how to help them create habits is  eye opening.

3. Action plans that work for your tendency

In individual coaching, knowledge of your tendency helps you to realise why you might be struggling to create habit like behaviours. Rather than focus on “Oh, why am I so lazy? Why can’t I stick to anything?” story, you can focus instead on creating action based on the strengths of your natural tendency.

Once you know what your tendency is then you are well placed, not to try to overcome it, but to work within the boundaries and find ways to make that tendency work for you

Wash your cups please!!!!

Oh and I guess you already know but the likely responses for those passive aggressive cup wash signs – often created by Obligers in the midst of what Rubin calls “Obliger rebellion” are:

An Obliger will see this sign and wash their cup

A Questioner will want to know why it needs to be done. Why do the cleaners not wash the cup? Is leaving one cup unwashed going to make a big difference?

A Rebel will resist “no one tells me what to do! I’ll wash my cup if I feel like it”

An Upholder will wash the cup regardless of the sign.  As long as they think it is the right thing to do, the sign makes no difference.

Let me know your feedback on The Four Tendencies. How can this self awareness  be useful for you right now?

Coaching Questions

How can you adjust your communication style to work with people of different tendencies?

How can you implement knowledge of your tendency to me more effective, productive and happy in your life?

Write for impact: global business communication

Whether you are writing an email to your colleague in Germany, a proposal to your client in Australia or an appraisal document to share with APAC HR, your focus needs to be laser sharp. 
My Japanese client asked me to share some resources on writing for impact in global business communication. I thought I would share the love with you too!

Recommended Reading

Andy Maslen’s Copywriting Sourcebook – focus on writing that sells and persuades. Loads of ideas and samples.
Made to Stick – a great book on why some ideas “stick” and how you can communicate to make sure your ideas do too.
Predatory Thinking  – the author was a copywriter and the text is a masterclass in direct tone and short sentences! The content is based on a series of stories of how to outthink the competition. Entertaining and thought provoking.
The Laws of Simplicity – the first law is “Reduce: The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.” Brevity, action verbs and concise sentences are the way forward!
I’d love to hear your recommendations too. What resources have made you rethink how you write? What are some of your best call to action phrases?
(Email me to find out how you can improve your written communication in a series of one-on-one coaching sessions)

Creating AWE

I will admit to misusing the word “awesome” and I’m about to do it again here.
The acronym “AWE” probably won’t fill you with “A feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder” but you may find it helps achieve the following:

  • Deepening awareness
  • Delving past automatic thinking, forcing you to dig deep
  • Increasing the pool of ideas at your disposal, increasing your chances of hitting on a great idea
  • Encouraging creativity

And it is super simple.
All you need to say is:

And
What
Else?

Here’s how to apply it in a brainstorming session
Think of an issue you are facing.
What action could I take to solve this?
Idea #1…

And what else?

Idea #2

And what else?

Idea #3…

And what else?

You get the drill…but here is the thing, whilst the first ideas might come thick and fast, after a while they start to dry up. This is where the “AWE” magic happens! This is where you move from your automatic preferences and start experimenting with new ideas, new perspectives and new ways of thinking.

Make yourself a little uncomfortable.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Similar to drilling down with the five whys, this iterative inquiry approach is a powerful coaching tool.
We’ll get to the challenge of implementing all these crazy new ideas in a future post. You will probably be filled with a lot of “I can’t do that!!!”. One step at a time, my friend! First, let’s work on unblocking our usual thinking and opening the floodgates of creativity and opportunity.

So try out the “AWE-some” (I warned you!) question this week and let me know what new insight or ideas you gained from applying this approach in the comments below.