I’ve been with iModerate since the beginning, but it’s been years since I’ve been behind the wheel. Recently I tried moderating a job (in-house, not for a client) to reacquaint myself, help the team out, and get some valuable insights. People always say that to truly appreciate how challenging, intense and gratifying something is, you need to try it for yourself. They are absolutely right. Here is my crash course in running diary form:
5:34 P.M. My qualitative specialist hands my fellow moderators and me a briefing guide and proceeds to walk us through it. It’s more detailed than I expected. Lots of “what if’s” and “probe when’s” to wrap my head around. I tune out slightly as I try unsuccessfully to log into Charles (our new software). Several failed password attempts later the guide discussion ends. I’m not so confident on where to go, when, and how – but how hard can it be? I never recover.
5:57 P.M. One of my coworkers generates a new login for me under the alias Antonio. The software is sleek – lots of options, buttons, fields, and views. Can’t wait to kick the tires and get started on some online one-on-ones.
6:12 P.M. Real people are going through the survey and the excitement is palpable. The chime which signals someone is ready to chat goes off, but I’m way too late. One of my fellow mods pounces all over it. I lose another one. This is no scrimmage.
6:23 P.M. “Well Hello Janice!” I declare as I try to take in all of her information from Charles’ dashboard. She engages, and instead of sending her the concept, I try to break the ice with some inane chit-chat, ending each sentence with an inexplicable amount of exclamation points.
6:29 P.M. After calming myself down, I finally get down to brass tax and send her the concept, asking “what’s the first thing you notice about it?”
6:31 P.M. Janice is idle
6:33 P.M. I start to worry about Janice. Is she o.k.? Was it something I said? Did she find someone else to chat with online? I’m experiencing full-blown teenage angst. Janice?????
6:34 P.M. She’s back, just a quick bathroom break. She can never know how horrible the last few minutes have been for me. I push a canned question; I’m in no state right now to be thinking on the fly.
6:47 P.M. My first conversation is winding down with unspectacular results. I end things awkwardly and move on. “Helloooo Morgan!”
6:48 P.M. Morgan is peppering me with his qualifications. He’s smart, honest; he will be a tremendous asset to the study… Meanwhile none of my lay-up questions are getting answered. It’s Morgan’s show and I’m just there for the ride. I want get him on track but I can’t seem to do so without disposing of the niceties. So I give it to him straight. Aaaaaand crickets. Was I rude? Did I post too brash of a response? Is he offended?
6:50 P.M. Morgan has left the chat.
7:04 P.M. Dinner arrives. I really don’t deserve to eat, but I’m in need of a morale boost, and I’m hoping the Thai food will help me focus.
7:34 P.M. In a bout of overconfidence, I think I’m an expert in ThoughtPath and throw an out-of-place identity question to Melanie, a loquacious mother of four. I end up way off guide, but she continues to follow with a blind trust that I’m betraying with each passing second. I can’t transition back. I stumble through the last 19 minutes of the chat, and end things with a clumsy canned response. Opportunity lost.
8:03 P.M. Is there anything better than a thoughtful back and forth between two people? Chantelle and I think not. I’ve found my dance partner, and everything is flowing. I find out things I didn’t think I could: interests, influencers, motivations. I’ve got this.
8:12 P.M. “Goodbye Chantelle….Hello Sean!”
8:13 P.M. “Sean?”
8:14 P.M. Sean has left the chat
Through over one hour and 51 minutes of moderating, one amazing conversation, and countless rookie mistakes, I am reminded of the patience, dexterity, humility and disposition required to do this job. Every now and again it’s nice to remind yourself how smart and skilled the people you work with are, and just how difficult moderating really is.