I’ve moderated over one hundred digital events, the majority of which have taken place in the last year. Below you’ll find my steps to prepare to shine on stage as a moderator every time. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message on LinkedIn. This is one of my greatest passions, and I’m happy to share the main elements of my process with you here.
STEP 1: Affirmations.
At this stage, you are preparing to become the best version of yourself as a moderator. You need to mentally train yourself so that you are ready to deliver what you can and what you expect of yourself.
We as humans criticize ourselves a lot, and instead of developing a confident mindset, we often ask ourselves, “Which mistakes did I make yesterday and which mistakes will I make today?”
To get around this, at this stage, we repeat phrases in our head that build us up. Affirmations can be all kinds of phrases and sentences—even just single words—but I’m going to write down a few of my favourites for you here. I use them all the time, and they’re great:
- I have fantastic charisma.
- People are very happy when they see me on the screen.
- I make people smile and share valuable knowledge with them.
- Through my moderation, this event will be a great experience for them.
- I am awesome.
- The audience will have the time of their lives.
- I am beautiful.
- My voice sounds great. (That last one is important. Many people are critical of the sound of their voice, and that can block them.)
It’s best to start these affirmations a week before the event. I’ve found that you need that time to let them sink in, so I highly encourage you to do it too. Create an awareness that you are awesome.
STEP 2: Preparation
Step 2.1: Content
In this next step, you’ll prepare the content you’ll be presenting. Think about what makes a good story. Think not only about the basic building blocks of your story, but also about the common thread. Once you are aware of what your key messages are, you can tie them together into a cohesive message. The most important thing here is storytelling, that is, making sure that everything you say follows a well-thought-out concept and that you shimmy along the rope of your narrative. This is the best way for your audience to follow you.
Once you have drafted your content, you can write the perfect text for yourself. Write it out completely and type it up. This is better than just writing down bullet points. I promise you, you’ll deliver the presentation twice as well if you’ve prescribed the text and done the thinking work. Read through the text a few times, then highlight the most important words.
Step 2.1: Practice
You can then practice with your finished text – first with yourself and then in front of other people. Read the text aloud to gain confidence and find a rhythm. Next, continue with your pet, and later work your way up to your neighbours. This part is an iterative process: you keep getting feedback, building the feedback into your text and moderation, and then rehearsing it again.
This kind of preparation will also make it easier for you later on to narrate the text making eye contact with the audience, instead of just reading it off. This is important if you want to connect with your audience during the event.
Another well-known method that can be helpful in preparation is neurolinguistic programming (NLP), a methodology that takes us on a journey throughout the event. This has an impact on us because our brains can’t tell the difference between a well-thought-out imagination and a real memory. So, if you sit down and visualize the whole event, using your content and your affirmations from step 1, it will all link together into an event that your brain associates with positive emotions. This way, you can later present your content happily and confidently.
At the very end of the preparation, you can do a professional run-through, during which you will also prepare your screen (more detailed blog post about this will be published later). Lastly, the day before the event, decide what to wear and how to set up your screen, what your background should be and so on.
STEP 3: Manifestation
In the last two hours before the event, you manifest. It’s best if you don’t have any appointments during this time and are able to only concentrate on yourself. Your setup and outfit should be ready at this time, so you don’t have to deal with small details. Now you can think through the process one last time and call upon your positive affirmations that you have stored in your mind and associated with the event. Become aware that you are now going to put your preparation into practice.
During this time, it is important to keep your emotions in check. More often than not, there will be a storm raging inside you – shaking hands, ups and downs of emotions, and a surprising mix of negative thinking. I always try to clear my head and focus only on what needs to happen next. My tip here: If you have mantras, chant them. Stay calm and remain in the here and now. The enemies in this stage are emotions in general and, specifically, fear.
Half an hour before the event starts, get up and jump a hundred times with an imaginary jump rope. This is another technique that helps me focus. My brain gets busy counting. I also have a ritual called “clapping,” also known as “tapping,” during which I slap or tap my body to increase blood flow and body awareness. I also tap my chest, something I call “monkey.”
I often moderate while standing. Should you be sitting, place both feet on the floor. The connection to the floor will give you stability and strength. Your shoulders should be down; this is a sign of confidence. People see fear when your shoulders are held up high. Find your inner strength and centre.
STEP 4: Projection
It’s always good to show up early to the event. As a presenter, it’s best to be the first person in the room and wait until everyone is there. Start a conversation with people as they virtually enter the room one by one. Build on that. Ask them, “where are you dialling in from?” and talk to them about your personal connection to this place.
Once a few people are there, you can ask someone to share a secret that no one else knows yet. You’ll be surprised how dynamic those first moments can feel as a community, with just the few people who are there first. You, as the moderator, will also get an initial feel for the guests and connect with them, giving you a distinct advantage for the rest of the event. Later, you can continue moderating with what you’ve learned (not the secrets, but the general information about who the people are and what they do). Play with the information they’ve given you.
Homer taught us to build interpersonal relationships by using our personal charisma. You make the audience fall in love with you right at the beginning. When they first meet you, and you appear on their screen, they don’t connect with you. This is where your personal job as a presenter begins: How can you get them to fall in love with you? Jokes work wonders.
We have prepared ourselves and invested time and energy, and it will pay off now. We say things with an intention and a positive purpose. Words can have a strong influence. If you say to people, “think about the past or think about what it’s like to eat a green apple,” they will do that, they can’t help it. You can influence the audience and their mood to a certain extent, and you can take advantage of that. I have a goal with everything I say. I don’t just say things.
Keep your goal in mind. Make the audience smile. Generate positive energy through your words. Be empathetic and accessible to guests. And, remember, a person always needs a reason. I always take the time to tell people exactly why we are about to do something, what is going to happen, and how we are going to do it.
For example, “The CEO is going to give us insights into the company strategy, so we have a clear view of things and transparency. This will be a 15-minute talk followed by a 10-minute Q&A session, so be prepared to write questions in the chat. Don’t worry, we won’t leave out a question. We’ll ask them one at a time after the speech, and I’ll be careful to make sure every single one is answered.” Then we move on with the activity itself.
If you are going to show the audience a three-minute video, tell them why they are watching the video and how long the video will be. Also, before you turn on the video, let them know that you will be discussing it afterwards so they can focus on preparing questions.
As a final tip, don’t repeat yourself to your digital audience. This is very important!
If you have any questions, feel free to write me on LinkedIn. It’s my pleasure to share what I’ve learned. Thanks for reading, and have fun being a digital presenter!