On Saturday, June 11, members from eleven League chapters met for a moderator training workshop led by LWVMN president, Terry Kalil.
New Board member Jayne Discenza attended and provided this report:
“As a new Saint Paul voter last year, League’s forum for my ward’s city council race was invaluable in informing my vote. It’s clear from the national debates on television that moderating politicians can be quite a trial. This training sought to raise the bar for local debates by reinforcing League goals of nonpartisanship and providing the nuts-and-bolts logistics of running a forum.
Prior to arriving, participants were instructed to write out the most offensive, off-topic, petty questions imaginable. As a group exercise, participants re-wrote them to comply with League standards. This task demonstrated the importance of question screening and sorting—more difficult than one might expect. Do you reject a question that may be offensive, or should it be composed differently to get to the heart of the question? How do we maintain our neutrality while still asking tough questions?
Much of the workshop was a discussion on characteristics of an effective moderator, from tactics of controlling the room, handling crises and noncompliant participants, and elevating the level of discourse. Experienced moderators shared their horror stories and successes and helped those of us with no experience address our hesitancies surrounding moderating. At the end of the training, I walked away with a greater understanding of League ideals of nonpartisanship and objectivity.”