The moderator

The role of the moderator in a focus session is to get the best and most innovative ideas about the focal problem from the group. The moderator must bring the session to a close with suggestions that will be of value to the sponsor in guiding further research or further thinking.

SUGGESTED CHARACTERISTICS OF A MODERATOR

• Be acceptable to the group as a person with whom they can work easily.

• Have a quick mind capable of noting new ideas that come from the group and pressing for further discussion, even though it may mean leaving the fixed agenda.

• Have a good memory for names. Group dynamics will flourish if each participant can feel the importance of what they are saying and thinking. This is reinforced when participants are known by their names.

• Have the prestige and ability to control a group if it wanders, bringing it back to the topic under discussion without appearing to dominate unduly. The moderator must also be able to recognise the importance of new ideas that were not expected but appear significant.

• Be as neutral as possible.

The moderator should be selected with the particular problem in mind. Selecting a moderator who has no interest in or knowledge of the subject would be pointless: they might easily miss some good ideas that arise unexpectedly from the group.

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