Mathematical Formula for Successful Event

Jan-Jaap In der Maur has found the mathematical proof that a good moderator or presenter is essential for a successful event. He will explain exactly how this works.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Jan-Jaap In der Maur has found the mathematical proof that a good moderator or presenter is essential for a successful event. He will explain exactly how this works.


Jan-Jaap, welcome to our studio.  


Hi there. 


You have found the mathematical proof that we need moderation on events, on a good event. 


Yes, absolutely, absolutely, I did. What I said is that everyone wants a great event. A great meeting... I said that there are 3 elements that make a great meeting. The first of these is a 'why'. Determining what your objectives are. I mean, if you don't know the goal, if you don't know the objectives, it's useless anyway. The second one, coming from the objectives, is translating those into a great meeting design. Your schedule, your work format, et cetera, et cetera. And the third one is moderation. And I said, well... You were good at mathematics, so you know that if any of the elements in the equation is at 0... 


Yeah, if you multiply them, it will be ending in a 0.  



Yeah, there's no effect in your event. So you have to score a maximum score on all three. I said: "well let's put objective on 10 vs. 5 for meeting design, vs. 2 for moderation. I'm a modest guy. But is it actually so? Yes, I think so, I think so. I mean, everything starts with the objective. Once the objective is there, every step that follows from it is easier. And if the objective is not there, every follow-up step is useless, so you have to put it at 10. Meeting design is more important than moderation, because when the meeting design is perfect and the goal is perfect, the task of the moderator becomes fairly easy. Because everything is logical in the way that it's designed. So therefore 10, to 5 to 2. 10 times 5 is 50, times 2 is 100%, so that added up quite nicely. If you put any to 0, it will be 0, but even when you take a moderator who will score only half of what he's supposed to score, he goes from a 2 to a 1. You go from a 100% score, to a 50% score. 


That's a huge impact.  


Yeah, that's a huge impact. So that proves that you have to do the maximum effort to do everything in the equation right and to find the right moderator. Because not every good moderator is the right moderator for every event. 


So it has been proven that we need a moderator, and a good one. 


Yeah, absolutely, absolutely, yeah. 


And what then is a good moderator? 


Well, a good moderator... You can find them on 4 elements. First of all is: the kind of meeting or event that you are organizing. I mean, it's quite a difference if you have a room full of people celebrating something, or that you have an angry mob, being angry about something. Those are different kinds of meetings. I mean, is it a town hall meeting? Is it an internal meeting with a corporate company. Is it a meeting for staff and personnel. All those kinds of meetings are different kinds of meetings. Every moderator has meetings he's good at and meetings he's not so good at. The second thing is the relation to the subject. Do you need someone from within the organization? That's an option. 


Because he knows much about the topic and...? 



Yeah, he knows the topic, he knows the people in the organization, he knows the problems that are already there. So he knows. And he is familiar to the people in the audience. On the other hand, because he's familiar with the topic maybe he forgets about the easy questions or the stupid questions, because he's already in the process, part of the process, he may not feel free to ask any question for instance to the manager. Because his job is on the line too. So there are pro's and cons to someone from within your organization. Second option is an expert in the field. He's not from the organization but he knows everything about the subject. So he will go deep and deep and deep, and sometimes that's an advantage. On the other hand, when the room is filled with people knowing nothing of the subject, going deeper and deeper and deeper is not the best option. 


Maybe too fast for the audience?  


Absolutely, and the problem sometimes with the experts in the field, is that they change from being a moderator to being a speaker. Because they know the subject, so... 


They start answering their own questions.  


Yeah, they want to show that they know everything. And that's sometimes the problem with experts. A third option is a famous TV personality or something like that. They're great when you want to be sure that there's a great show. Everything is going smoothly. If you want to make people feel that you went a long way for them. Invested in a famous guy or girl. Then the famous TV presenter is a great option. And the last one is the professional moderator, who knows nothing or almost nothing of the subject, but who knows about processes, about having people talk about something. Interacting, engaging, et cetera. And that choice is one to be made too. 


So you very consciously look at those aspects to make a decision on who is doing it. 


Yeah absolutely, then the third one is the easy one. I mean, what skills does the moderator need? Is at a debating meeting; you take a debater. If it's something with lots of interviews, take someone who's a great interviewer. And don't mix them up.  


Those are totally different professions. 


Absolutely, you can easily name 10-20-30 skills that a moderator might need. And you have to take a look at what are the most important skills for this meeting, and choose a moderator who fits them. And the last one is the one that is most often forgotten about. That's the personality of the moderator. 


What do you mean with that? 


Well, I mean that we all have our own personality. The factory settings. The default settings. And for me a default setting is that I keep on asking questions. Annoying questions sometimes, because I want to know. I want to know what's down there, et cetera.On some occasions that default setting works perfectly. On some other occasions people hate me for it. "Oh, there's he again. Asking questions, questions. Just make it smooth and funny please." 


Another question! Please stop Jan-Jaap. 


Yeah, and by looking at those default settings of moderators... I mean, one being... Do you know the dog, the golden retriever? Yeah. Those are dogs, for people who don't know the golden retriever. The blonde kind of dogs that jump up and lick in your face. And they all make stains on your suit. Some people love the golden retriever. Other people hate the golden retriever. We have a moderator in our agency, and we call him the golden retriever. Because he's very outgoing and very in people's face and very enthusiastic. At some occasions it works. In other occasions... 


Yeah, if you have to bring bad news, maybe it's difficult in that way. 


Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. So the personality of the moderator... One example: one client, I asked him: "what kind of people are in the room?" And he said: "well, they're mainly men. They all have big hands. They tell dirty jokes, they drink beer and they all slap each other on the back". So that draws a picture of the kind of people who are in the room. 


That's a good briefing. 


Yeah, they're not always that specific, but... Then I immediately see some faces of moderators I know who could fit that audience. And then you are there. One final thing, because we keep on talking about 'the moderator'. I specifically try to use the word 'moderation'.  


What's the difference?  


The moderator is the person, standing on stage. He's important, because the objective is on paper, the meeting is on paper, and someone has to make sure that once on stage it has to happen there. But there's more. Moderation is the whole complex of everything that makes sure that what's on paper is there on stage. So that is the lighting, the sound, the catering, the room, the venue in itself. 


But how does that affect the moderation?  


Well, did you ever do a meeting after a bad lunch? Or after no lunch? 


Okay, I've got the point. 


I mean, then my job becomes very hard. And the same goes for the room. I mean, if lighting is not good, people get tired. If sound is not good... You get very tired when sound is not good. Because you have to concentrate more to listen actually what words are said. So if you have to use all your energy in hearing the words, you have no energy left to interpret the words. So sound should be perfect. And that's why I say: moderation is everything that helps doing it on stage. 


Okay, Jan-Jaap, thank you very much for the equation.  


You're welcome. 


And you at home: thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week!