Moderator Tools


Virtual Meetings
Since we still cannot meet in person, we will need to design our meetings to be completely virtual, using Zoom, we’ve collected some best practices and wanted to highlight some tools you can use within Zoom. We also created a Virtual Meeting Guide that is specifically tailored to these meetings.

Best Practices

  • Mods, try to dress as you would if you were meeting in person – shower, dress professionally, think about your background
  • Make sure the agenda for the time is clear, including who is leading each section, the time allocated to each topic/discussion and when you’ll have breaks.
  • Define your virtual meeting norms
    • Show up – protect this time with one another
    • Cameras on – come as you are, you don’t need to be “camera ready”
    • Start promptly
    • Reduce noise – for other attendees and yourself, quiet location, strong internet connection, shut down other apps and turn off notifications (i.e. airplane mode)
    • Maintain eye contact – focus on conversation, resist looking at email, chat or browsing the internet outside of breaks
    • Have fun – weave some fun into every conversation
    • Commit to breaks (every ~60 mins)
  • Start each meeting with a personal/professional check-in
  • Look for ways to keep members engaged
    • Create a shared doc for folks to create / take notes together
    • Give participants a job for each session – note taker, summarizer, lead, etc.
    • Appoint a “Yoda” – add a bit of levity to meetings by turning to the Yoda of the day at critical points during the meeting and ask, “So, what’s going on here that nobody’s talking about?”
    • Call on people, follow up on reactions
    • Use polling, breakout rooms
  • Minimize presentation length. Meetings should be discussions. Background information should be provided beforehand. If someone needs to present, use screen sharing to guide the conversation, so attendees can literally “be on the same page.” But prioritize conversation to maximize the time people are looking at each other.
  • Reward naysayers: Give warm, generous praise to team members who aren’t afraid to speak their minds when everyone else appears to be in agreement on an issue.
  • Leverage confidentiality: During the transition to candor, it can be helpful to ask members to share thoughts anonymously using the Polling feature in Zoom or the Chat feature in Zoom/Slack.
  • If there’s a noise or disruption, acknowledge it


Zoom Tools / Features

  • Polling: to engage members and to get real time feedback, here is short video about how to set up a poll
  • Reactions: allow your members to communicate non-verbally
  • Breakout Rooms: create sub-groups to increase participation or when a couple of smaller/niche discussions are needed
  • Chat: allow your members to communicate with one another and you during a virtual meeting
  • Share Screens: Mods and members can share visuals, documents that aid in conversation and engage members
  • Share Multiple Screens: Multiple screens can be shared to compare/contrast documents

Phil also created a document on using Zoom for his Slow Art Day hosts – it summarizes some of the information above into one place.

Lean Coffee
Lean Coffee is a structured, but agenda-less meeting. Participants gather, build an agenda, and begin talking. Conversations are directed and productive because the agenda for the meeting was democratically generated. Here is a template you can leverage, the first sheet includes instructions.

Assign Seating
For our in-person meetings, we recommend Moderators assign seating to help members have a sense of direction and place when they arrive at Council meetings. Some things to consider and think about when assigning seats:

  • Look for opportunities to both mix up the group (gender, new members & alum) and to place people together who might have something in common (home/work city, industry, age, business model)
  • Consider fun ways to arrange members who know each other well – have group organize themselves in birthdate order, tenure with the Councils or something else easy
  • You might place a conversation starter at each person’s seat – something specific to the individuals or just general non-generic ice breaker conversations

Meeting Kickoff & Introductions
The way we kickoff our Council meetings is important in setting the tone and for getting members into the frame of mind to be open – both to giving and receiving – during the Council meetings. Our goal as Moderators is to help build and deepen trust by allowing members to get to know each other on both a personal and professional level.

The flow for meeting kickoff is roughly:

  • Review Council Member Norms and Agreements – Confidentiality, Authenticity, Balance, Curiosity
  • Review Moderator Role & Expectations – Coach, Facilitator, Contributor
  • Lead Ice Breaker – or – Introductions (~5 mins per person)

Ice Breaker OR Introduction?

All Council meetings start with an exercise where Council members are encouraged to get to know each other at a deeper level – in a way that is energizing and fun. This session may be called ‘Intros’ if there are several new Council members but may be called something different like ‘Updates’ if a Council is all returning members. Either way, Moderators should look for ways to make this session energizing and fun, which rarely means a typical round table of business updates about members’ promotions, business accomplishments and titles.

Unique Questions

  1. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
  2. What do you really want to do in the next 6 months?
  3. What is your “super power” and “kryptonite” at work?
  4. Write a Field Guide for working with you.
  5. Create 2 lists of things you do, 1. Love it and 2. Loathe it. Let’s discuss how to do more of Love items and how we can reframe or reduce the Loathe items
  6. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
  7. Draw an instagram post titled “Me right now.”.
  8. What is your hidden talent?
  9. Share a fun photo from the last 6 months – tell us where you were, who you were with!
  10. What’s the story behind your name (first, middle, last, nickname, whatever)?
  11. What do you want to leave as your legacy?
  12. What do you want written on your tombstone?
  13. What is your dream ________ (job, vacation, etc.)? 
  14. Describe your perfect day.
  15. Describe your ideal weekend.
  16. Bring a quote. Ask, “Why did this quote resonate with you?” 
  17. What the best leadership advice you ever received? What did you do with it? Or: Do you still follow it?
  18. What movie describes your life? Who would play you?
  19. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  20. What’s on your bucket list?
  21. What’s the worst job you every had?
  22. What was your first professional job?
  23. What was your first job (when you were a teenager)?
  24. Did you know that I used to… (describe an interesting job you had, or something that would be useful for other council members to know about your professional history.)
  25. What is a ridiculous part of your job that is not in your job description? Or, You won’t believe this is part of my job…
  26. What is your hardest job outside of work?
  27. Where do you go to really get your job done?
  28. What is the biggest change you recently made? How did it make you more or less effective (or productive)?
  29. What is the best or worst hiring decision you’ve made? What did you learn from that? Or how did it change the way you do things?
  30. Tell us about the best manager you ever had? What did you learn from him/her? 
  31. Who is the most inspirational person to you?
  32. What is your spirit animal? Why?
  33. Share a big Aha or a Yikes moment from the last 6 months. What did you learn from it?
  34. Tell us about something that didn’t go as planned over the past 6 months. What did you do? What did you learn?
  35. What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
  36. Who is your favorite cartoon character?
  37. What book are you reading? 
  38. Do you have a go-to karaoke song?
  39. Which three words describe you best?
  40. Which common saying or phrase describes you?
  41. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week?
  42. Who was your role model when you were a child?
  43. What was your favorite subject at school?
  44. What is your greatest non-work achievement?
  45. Which would you prefer — three wishes over five years or one wish right now?
  46. If you could have one wish come true what would it be?
  47. Did you ever keep a New Year’s resolution?
  48. Where would you like to be in five years?
  49. Which skill would you love to learn?
  50. Which language would you like to learn?
  51. If money was not a concern what would you do every day if you didn’t work?
  52. What was the funniest moment in your life?
  53. What was the most embarrassing moment in your life?
  54. Would you like to see into the future? Why?
  55. Would you like to be invisible for a day? Why?
  56. Where would you most like to live?
  57. Which task or chore is your favorite? or least favorite?
  58. What is your favorite TV show of all time and why? 
  59. What TV show do you never miss?
  60. What book had a major impact/influence on you?
  61. What is your favorite film?
  62. Who would you like to be for a day?
  63. Who would play you in a film?
  64. If you could invite five famous or noted people (past or present) to dinner who would you choose?
  65. Which time period would you visit in history?
  66. Would you prefer to visit Earth in 2100 or travel back to 1900?
  67. If you only had 3 apps on your phone, what are they?
  68. How do you start your day?

Energy Boosters
Council meetings can get long and energy can be low, especially after lunch – some Moderators have helped their members to raise energy by:

  • Taking Council outside for a ‘walk and talk’ – ideally less than 30 minutes, consider suggesting pairs for challenges/topics that are not as relevant to the whole Council
  • Facilitating a Quick/rapid fire roundtable discussions, each person has 30 seconds-1 minute to share, pull from the “Ice Breaker” questions above.
  • Put on a “Mindful Movement” chair yoga session, you can fine one on YouTube or you can use one of the sessions created for us by Unfold Yoga (led a Chair Yoga session in Chicago)