#makemarchmatter

Found yourself with an empty book of business due to the Coronavirus? Join this free online community of entrepreneurs , freelancers, and professionals focused on accountability and action to make March 2020 meaningful to future success. Sessions are in English and based on Tokyo time – all are welcome!

Join the Mailing List or the Facebook Group

Accountability

Commit to delivering one of those “to-dos” you have been putting off. Make March 2020 the month that you update your website, write that book or streamline your processes

Connection

Regular Zoom calls support community. Gathering diverse professionals gives a chance for innovation, collaboration and new ideas for your business

Inspiring Action

Support each other to make things happen and get a regular dose of inspiration to support your resilient mindset in these uncertain times.

Join the Mailing List or the Facebook Group

How will we connect?

Accountability Kick Off

Monday mornings means Accountability Kick Off!

How will you #makemarchmatter?

What do you need from the group this week?
What do you bring to the group this week?

Monday Morning Accountability Kick Off Schedule

Monday March 2nd, 2020 8:30am to 9:30am JST
Monday March 9th, 2020 8:30am to 9:30am JST
Monday March 16th, 2020 8:30am to 9:30am JST
Monday March 23rd, 2020 8:30am to 9:30am JST
Monday March 30th, 2020 8:30am to 9:30am JST

Mid-Week Power Hour

Wednesday Afternoons means Mid-week Power Hour
We will use appreciative inquiry as a way to get new perspectives on our challenges and fire up through hump day!
We hold this early afternoon as 2:07pm is the sleepiest time of the day. Brainstorming in our community will leave us energised and ready for action!

How will you #makemarchmatter?

Bring a specific challenge or opportunity to discuss and get insight for the group to move you forward!

Wednesday Mid-Week Power Hour Schedule

Wednesday March 4th, 2020 13:30 to 14:30 JST
Wednesday March 11th, 2020 13:30 to 14:30 JST
Wednesday March 18th, 2020 13:30 to 14:30 JST
Wednesday March 25th 2020 13:30 to 14:30 JST

TGIF (Or Thursday!) Week in Review

We made it!
Wrap up the week with a review – brags, failures, new ideas and inspiration.
TGIF! (although sometimes this will happen on a Thursday due to my schedule and the National Holiday!)

How will you #makemarchmatter?

TGIF (or TH) Week in Review Schedule

Here are where things get a little complicated and subject to possible change!

Friday, March 6th, 2020 17:00 to 18:00 JST
Friday, March 13th, 2020 11:00 to 12:00 JST (Schedule may change )
Thursday, March 19th, 2020, 17:00 to 18:00 JST (Friday is a National Holiday)
Thursday, March 26th, 2020 17:00 to 18:00 JST (Schedule may change)

Find out more?

Join the Mailing List or the Facebook Group

My Ikigai Journey: from slipped disc to jumping out of bed

So how did this lass from Bury, in the north west of England, become so interested in this Japanese concept of Ikigai?

Of course, moving to Japan in 1999 with proximity to the culture would be a simple explanation but I did not become aware of the concept until 2017. It was only after I discovered my Ikigai that I discovered Ikigai.

I wish I had known about it in 2015. It really was my “annus horribilis”.

The year began with me laid up in bed with a slipped disc. Agony whatever I did, unable to lie comfortably or move around, unable to take care of my family or commute on a crowded train to Tokyo to go to work. I could not sit or stand.  Lying down was not even that much respite. I endured some terrible physio that probably made the issue worse before I asked around locally and finally found someone who could help.

But during these weeks as I struggled with pain and felt let down by my body for the first time in my adult life, I started to sink into depression. I cried when I could not carry my infant son, or even do simple jobs around the house, I could not play with or comfort my daughter. There were no more impromptu dance parties, tickle fights or circus skills. I was never a great cook but now the act of shopping, cooking and cleaning up was more than I could handle.

Who was I as a mother?

So to my husband. He had to take on all the caregiving, as well as his full time job. As a Japanese salaryman, even at an enlightened company, the fact that he could not do overtime every day was beginning to take its toll. And as for intimacy…well, that was very far from my mind.  And not only in the physical sense. I had no energy to listen to his troubles, no fire in my heart to support and cheer him on. I was locked in my own suffering and frustration.

Who was I as a wife and partner?

And then my work. Truth be told,  I was glad not to have the commute. Something had shifted in my engagement and satisfaction. I had been with my company since 2004. They were challenging but enjoyable years. However, after my second maternity leave I came back to a different job, with a different boss. And to be frank, I was underperforming in my role. I had no fire in my belly for the work. More importantly  for the first time in my career I did not feel a sense of belonging and camaraderie with the people on my team. I could not see where the role would take me.

Who was I in my career? What was my role in the firm?

In the key places where I defined my identity,  (mother, wife, professional),  I felt a failure. I felt I had nothing to offer.

There were a few bright spots.  I had an incredibly supportive network of women through my leadership of a Lean In Circle, a peer to peer networking group, that I founded in Tokyo. I also had the camaraderie of my local running group although obviously running was off the cards during this period.

With perfect 20:20 hindsight, I see that the slipped disc was a great way of getting me to slow down. I was forced to take stock of my life and what I valued. 

The slipped disc was certainly a real issue. I have the MRI scans to prove it. I can’t help but think that I was sending myself a warning. Something had broken inside me and I could not get out. Be warned, gentle reader, that I will talk a LOT about listening to your body. The signs that our parasympathetic nervous system sends us are an incredibly valuable message.

Then slowly, slowly, the pain relief started to work. I was able to return to “normal” life and pick up all those roles again. But the seed had been planted and the nagging thought in my mind was there.

“Without these things, these roles that I thought defined me, who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose?”

Big questions with no easy answers. And as a harried working mum with a young family, they were questions that were easy to ignore.

Around the time that I started to recover, I had dinner with a friend, Renee. 

“How are things?” she asked. 

“Not so terrible” I said, trying to reframe my current situation, to put it in perspective of my #firstworldproblems. I wanted to remind my self that in the great scheme of humanity that as an Oxford educated, white woman in a white collar job in Tokyo with a healthy family, a lovely house and many options and support, things were indeed not so terrible.

“But darling, Jen! Not so terrible is not the goal. You deserve more. Everyone does!”

And then it hit me, that I was settling. I started to think about how it was possible to give myself permission to ask for more. It wasn’t greedy or self indulgent to want more and by aiming only for “not so terrible” I was holding myself back. By settling in a role that I wasn’t engaged in, I was also becoming a drain on resources in my firm. I was transforming into the very type of colleague that I most disliked: The safe, the bored, the clock in/ clock out, the ranks of the disengaged. 

Was this the limit of my potential?  Why am I here? What is my purpose?

Around the time of this dinner, a couple of other moments of clarity came to me. Once we start to pay attention, the messages start coming thick and fast. Perhaps that is why you are reading this now?

Realizing that I had been sent a wake up call in the form of a shut down of my body, I had decided to take action. I was working with Anne Good,  an executive coach,  and drilling down on these questions of purpose, strengths and life design. On our regular Skype calls, we focused on creating possibilities for potential next steps. I developed awareness of my unique strengths. I met fabulous people with really interesting jobs through informational interviewing. I clawed back the agency and control that I had lost over the last 12 months. I found that I was improving relationships within my team, meeting inspiring people with interesting stories and leaning into what I loved.

I attended a speech by Dr. Bob Tobin, author of “What do you want to create today?” and he asked the room “What is your dream?” And in that question, I had the saddest realization. I don’t have a dream. I can’t see beyond the hamster wheel of my work and family life. I am coasting, waiting for things to happen to me. I could not believe it but the truth was staring me in the face. I had given up on the idea of hopes and dreams for myself.

And yet, and yet… I started to see something, a power and presence in me that emerged when I was facilitating the LeanIn Circle. There was a monthly moment of flow. It was during those meetings that I felt the most energized.  The most useful. The most me.

From these insights about strengths, possibility, dreams and flow, a new perspective emerged. There might be something else out there for me that could work!

I announced in a session that I wanted to return to L&D and to pursue options in facilitation and coaching. Anne, my coach asked me, “What if you stay in this job and spend the next 6-12 months studying to be a coach?”  

Shudder – it was a  visceral reaction, the churn in my stomach. I may have even been a little sick in my mouth! Overwhelming feelings of dread at the thought of showing up every day and becoming a little more broken each month. 

But then, the practical side of maintaining the status quo held me. What would I do instead? How could I make a living? I was terrified of that too. 

This is where I realized the importance of all those informational interviews. Meeting diverse people who can suggest options of how to live or choices to make that you did not know were possible. I met with Ted Agatsuma, an experienced HR professional who was now working as a consultant. I bemoaned the jobs which I had seen on the market in L&D and Training. 

“I want to be a practitioner, Ted. I want to be in the room with people and see the aha moments with them!

“The only way that is going to happen is if you set up your own company and freelance,” he told me in a very matter of fact way. And just as the words “I can’t set…” started to come out of my mouth, I stopped myself. What if I could? What might it look like?

And from that moment on, it was all systems go. With the support of my family and the promise of paying my half of the mortgage for a year from my husband, I set about planning the launch of my sole proprietorship. 

I had dinner with Ted on February 26th, 2016. Resigned in early May and the business was launched on June 29, 2016 with the help of the first professional I hired, Yasuko Mori, who remains my wonderful and supportive Tax Accountant. 

Looking back on my personal experience,  I see how useful it would have been to use the Ikigai framework. Once I had a clear understanding of what I loved, what I was good at, what I could be paid for and what the world needed, I was able to take action. Once I worked out what would make me jump out of bed rather than battle the pain of a slipped disc, I was able to start moving forwards.

So as I said, It was only after I discovered my Ikigai that I discovered Ikigai.

Talking Ikigai and Gaman in my podcast debut

Whilst I’ve done plenty of public speaking and a couple of YouTube videos (Thrive Tokyo and about the Wor Watthana Muay Thai gym in Thailand), I’ve never been on a podcast! I’m always talking about the importance of getting used to hearing your voice as other people hear it but hadn’t recorded myself recently – time to walk the talk.

So I’m delighted to announce that I’ve just been featured on the Transformations with Jayne Podcast. You can find it over on iTunes Episode 58 or over at Anchor with lots of different ways to listen. It was a great experience to talk informally about a whole host of topics. Jayne was a member of the Lean In Japan Entrepreneur Circle that I ran from 2017 to 2019 so it was great to catch up with her as well!

In this episode we talk about:
The  recent typhoon and flooding
How Jennifer came to be in Japan
What is “ikigai”
Points of You® coaching
Hope you enjoy the discussion and there are some useful ideas for you!

If you’d like to be featured in my book about how you integrated your ikigai, please contact me through the website to share your story!

Doing

What is “Doing” in Points of You®?

Create a new reality

It’s time to advance from thought to action. We draft an action plan or To-Do List that outlines the necessary steps and sets the timetable for realizing our insights.

“Tachles” is a word often using by Points of You® Tribe members. Yaron Golan, co-founder of Points of You® told us at the 5 day training programme in November 2018, “Originally, Tachles is a German word, in Israel it is commonly used as slang, meaning “the bottom line of doing”

This is the excel sheet behind our dreams.

I really love this connection between the pragmatic and the creative.

We can think and think and dream and dream. We can create our vision boards, talk about how we want the world to be but until we take the first small step to action, it is nothing more than a dream.

And we need a plan – to outline the steps and reflect on our progress. Maybe we need to pivot later if we find out that the action did not have the expected outcome.

Countless times in my life I have hesitated, I’ve been led by fear. Fear of failure, looking stupid, losing something precious to me. I remember when I set up my business in 2016 – no clients, no experience in the training room for 7 years. What was I thinking? And yet, each small action, each meeting allowed things to grow, to make something from nothing, to integrate my ikigai and do work that I truly love, am good at, can be paid for and that the world needs.

Taking the first step is often the hardest. (Actually as a Spartan, I love this picture. Reminds me of some great experiences!)

I remember learning a valuable distinction about two types of fear from Tara Mohr (seriously, this book was a game changer for me I read it in March 2016 just as I was about to hand in my resignation. Forever grateful to Tara and her team for their support!)

Tara has a great video about the two types of fear here and some advice

Next time you are in a moment that brings fear:
1. Ask yourself: what part of this fear is pachad? Write down the imagined outcomes you fear, the lizard brain fears. Remind yourself that they are just imagined, and that pachad-type fears are irrational.
2. Savor yirah. Ask yourself: what part of this fear is yirah? You’ll know yirah because it has a tinge of exhilaration and awe -while pachad has a sense of threat and panic. Lean into – and look for – the callings and leaps that bring yirah.

Tara Mohr My Favourite Teaching about Fear

Using the Focus Notes to take the first step

The thing I like the most about using the Focus Notes in Points of You® is the brevity. Pocket sized, you can stick onto your desktop, your fridge, your mirror or wherever you need to be able to see it.

Focus notes booklet on the top left hand side of this picture. Each note can easily be removed from the book so you can take it anywhere,

And they are simple.

What can you do in 24 hours? 1 week? 1 month?

Will it be a conversation with a key stakeholder? Or a change in your sefl-talk?

Something to start doing? Something to stop doing?

A one-off action or a habit-creation?

(I offer programmes on Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies if you want to learn more about how to create habits for you and your team members. I really find this concept to make so much sense and now leverage my Obliger tendencies to build in external accountability to help me deliver on those habits. Contact me to find out more)

One of the questions from Punctum and a helpful guide to “Doing”

Want to find out more about Points of You® Methods?

I run open workshops once a quarter and am currently offering Corporate Experiences with Points of You® at a very special rate.
Find out about Open Courses on Peatix
Corporate Experiences

Finding Focus

I’m sitting in Tully’s with the purpose of writing this post on my calendar. I’ve been here for 40 minutes and variously scrolled through linkedin, facebook and email and LINE. My mind is jumping around and I’m finding Focus elusive. Two men near me are talking loudly and whilst I can tune out their conversation the voices pull me out of focus.

When I think of focus it brings images of productivity, laser-sharp, relentless drive to be the best at something, to deliver on one thing. It’s GaryVee and endless hustle. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of GaryVee’s tough love to tell me to stop making excuses and yet…

There is no space for multitasking, no pinwheel brain, no dips in energy. Always grinding to drive success.

And I start to feel guilty, why don’t I have more self discipline? Why can’t I keep promises to myself and instead focus on external accountability (which can be hard to find as your own boss!)? I download app blockers and then don’t use them. And I start to feel a bit disappointed in myself.

But then I look at productivity rates and realise that long hours doesn’t correlate with innovation and creativity. That forcing an idea tends to squish it rather than giving it space to grow. I’m reminded of the Tim Urban TED Talk “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator“, and my favourite quotation about procrastination:


You call it procrastinating. I call it thinking.”

Aaron Sorkin

On the other side of the hustle of Focus is “Flow”.

Csíkszentmihályi described flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” (Wired Magazine)

I remember feeling a sense of Flow at the WIN Conference, Tokyo, Japan. May 11th 2018. Completely involved in the activity and “in the zone”
Photographer: Elena Tyutina.

Whilst I find myself achieving flow when I am facilitating, writing, and on a good day running, what I lack is the flow between actions. What to do next? Sometimes just the getting started and that is why I find the Points of You® description of Focus so liberating.

What is Focus in Points of You®?

A conscious choice

Now we focus on our most significant insights. We use guiding questions to clarify and define exactly which of the newly discovered possibilities is right for our journey or for the issue at hand.

” A conscious choice” – One of my words for the year is “Intention” (The other is “I’m enough” which came out of my Points of You 5 day training in November 2018). Intention to me is all about conscious choices.

Who do I want to be in this conversation? How do I want to behave in this meeting? What is my intention behind this next action?

When it comes to focus being “a conscious choice”, asking myself which of the opportunities for action is going to bring me closer to my goals and allow me to integrate my ikigai is a useful north star.

See, I even bought a candle with the purpose of upgrading my intention!

It feels like a gift goal, a concept I learnt from Tara Mohr. When I focus only on the shoulds, the burden of social expectation, I reduce my impact. When I do work that feels expansive, luxurious and enriching, I feel closer to my ikigai. I see that I am making the choice that is right for my journey at this time.

In the Points of You® process, usually the most meaningful focus area jumps out at you. The next challenge is to move that focus to action, to “Doing”.

P.S. I wrote the first draft of this post in 20 minutes. Spent longer procrastinating and worrying about what I was going to write about Focus. As a client said this week “Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty and something beautiful will appear”

Want to find out more about Points of You® Methods?

I’m running two open workshops on July 16th and currently offering Corporate Experiences with Points of You® at a very special rate.
Find out about Open Courses on Peatix
Corporate Experiences

Expand your perspective

I thought the session using cards was interesting to see differences between people. It helps understand that people have different interpretations and something they look at things which I do not care about.

2019 Points of You Corporate Workshop Participant

One of the most valuable takeaways that I hear as a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant using Points of You® in my workshops, is when participants are able to internalise that there are multiple points of view in any discussion. Of course, most of us comprehend this intellectually but in my workshops I love to see what really internalising this means to participants, especially in terms of applying that back in the workplace.

And diversity of perspective is not just about other people, how can we expand our own point of view? If we approach a challenge or an opportunity with a different world view, can we influence a different outcome?

What is “expanding” in Points of You®?

Countless points of view

Expanding is the second of four stages in the Points of You® method. It is described on the website as follows:

“In this stage we search for the unknown, not knowing where it may lead us. We allow a shift from our familiar comfort zone– to a world of new opportunities, insights and WOW moments. At the end of this stage we know this:
Anything is possible.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/thoughtsofcrys/2017/03/02/memes-corrected/ – With a commentary about research and how to reduce ambiguity

5 ways to expand your point of view

Below I share 5 ways to expand your point of view, be open to other perspectives and generally give yourself a chance to get unstuck from self-limiting beliefs…all without using Points of You® 😉

1. Do the trusted ten exercise

Then find someone outside your regular group to talk with. Diverse opinions don’t just happen, we have to reach outside our daily experience.

When was the last time you had a decent chat with someone outside your age group, gender, race, sexuality?

Living as a foreigner in Tokyo offers some amazing opportunities to meet people from all over the world and find out about their world view.

Expanding @ Sun and Moon Yoga

2. How fascinating!

In March 2019, when I was presenting about Ikigai at the Gross Global Happiness Conference at UPEACE in Costa Rica, Juan Jose Reyes M.D, Founder of Mindstay, suggested using this reflective statement to approach our reactions to situations. Notice that you are getting annoyed? Feel your teeth clenching? You chest tightening?

Comment to yourself “How fascinating!”

Observe your physical sensations, what is going on? What is happening here? How is this response serving me? How do I want to be in this situation?

Then you can expand your choice of responses based on this awareness of your body.

3. “Thoughts are not facts”

Lean In Japan Entrepreneur member and owner of Quest Tokyo, Kirsten O’Connor, used to remind me of this all the time!

We tell so many stories to ourselves with our interpretations of a perceived slight, a shady glance, a terrible wrong inflicted on us.

During my work with Tara Mohr on her Playing Big Facilitators Training Programme in 2018, we did an excellent activity forcing us to brainstorm 20 possible…as well as ridiculous… interpretations of the facts of a situation. In individual coaching, Tara suggested that the reason my client hadn’t replied to email was not because my work was terrible but because they had fallen hopelessly in love with me and could not be professional around me! This was so ridiculous but also within the realm of the possible (obviously I’m irresistible) that I could at least see that there were ways I could expand my approach

4. Channel Littlefinger

“Sometimes when I try to understand a person’s motives I play a little game. I assume the worst. What’s the worst reason they could possibly have for saying what they say and doing what they do?”

Lord Petyr Baelish, Game of Thrones
Source: Vanity Fair

Regular readers will know that I am a GOT (and Harry Potter) fan, mostly for the “great conversations in elegant rooms” rather than the bloody battle scenes. Whilst Littlefinger is generally not a role model for me, his approach of expanding his response can be useful. As a proponent of positive psychology though, I tend to think, “What’s the best reason they could possibly have for saying what they say and doing what they do?” This positive expansion helps you to focus on opportunities not obstacles…which brings me to….

5. Obstacles as opportunities

Yes, I do love Spartan Races and I’m about to join the next Japan race on July 6th. Obstacle Course Racing is a great way to build resilience and also to practice “expanding”. Not just about muscles but also about your realm of what is possible for you. The self-limiting belief “I’ll never be able to do this!” can quickly be overturned by the realisation you just nailed the spear throw!

Just this morning, I caught myself saying “I don’t trust myself!” as I jumped up to reach a bar. When I changed my self talk and event went so far as to say it out loud “I trust myself” my performance improved. It might be a placebo, it could just be practice but you know what, I’ll take it! Language matters.

Read about my take on all 4 parts of the Points of You® Method. Pause, Expand, Focus, Doing.

Want to try a Points of You® Workshop with Jennifer Shinkai?

Contact me here

Follow on Peatix for the latest events – July 16th Open Courses on Peatix
https://peatix.com/group/6888946

Corporate Experiences – special programmes until December 2019!
http://ow.ly/bsdm50uKYGL

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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.