Virtual events should be positive, engaging experiences. However, things sometimes go differently than the organizers plan. In those scenarios, chat moderation is the most valuable tool they can have.
Chat Moderation Plays a Big Role in Virtual Events
Organizers hosting a high-profile virtual event scrambled to collect themselves after an uninvited guest suddenly hijacked the session before it even began. Unfortunately, over 200 attendees unwillingly viewed obscene images on their screens before the hosts terminated the meeting.
The March 2023 debacle drew more attention than similar situations because it involved Christopher Waller — a member of the United States Federal Reserve Board of Governors. The hosts publicly expressed their embarrassment and regret, noting a technical error on their end may have let anyone watching the event join.
In fact, the individual was only able to display inappropriate adult material because the hosts did not bother restricting attendees’ permissions. Anyone who joined could use their microphone, camera or the chat feature. Although they only made a few minor mistakes, their consequences were fairly severe. Luckily, this is the exact situation chat moderation defends against.
Why Is Moderation Important?
While many people think Zoom bombing and virtual-event raiding are relics from the COVID-19 era, this incident shows they are here to stay. Even though hosting a virtual event can increase your return on investment and make your business stand out, doing so comes with risks. Chat moderation is the last defense against trolls, bots and uncooperative attendees.
What Skills Are Crucial for Chat Moderation?
A chat moderator must have a wide range of skills to protect the attendees and the hosting company. Here are 10 of the most important.
Sometimes, virtual events go sideways even without an uninvited troll appearing. Maybe someone unintentionally unmutes themselves, a cat walks across their keyboard or they accidentally send a private message publicly. These kinds of situations are common, so it is up to you to prepare for them.
Outstanding problem-solving skills can help you address issues in chat and deal with unwanted behavior. If you can quickly determine how to respond, the virtual event can continue like nothing happened.
Every good moderator needs to learn patience. Manually reviewing every message, answering in-chat questions and re-explaining the rules will seem much easier if you know how to stay calm and endure. It is an instrumental skill when you find yourself dealing with a troll or a stubborn attendee behaving poorly.
3. Good Judgment
Good judgment is one of the most important skills you can have as a moderator. After all, your actions determine the safety of the chat. You need to know when to make a call and trust in your decisions. Imagine if an attendee wrote one rude message — would you ban them immediately or privately message them to remind them of the rules?
4. Computer Literacy
More people work from home every year. In fact, the percentage of remote jobs in North America rose from 4% to 15% in 2020 alone. Because this figure keeps increasing, the number of virtual events likely will, too. If you plan on keeping your chat safe, you need technical skills.
Computer literacy is crucial because every platform has unique chat-moderation tools. They can be extremely helpful if you know how — and when — to use them. For example, you could use the filter to block specific words or enable “Slow mode” to get more time to review messages.
5. Attention to Detail
Having a strong attention to detail is essential during chat moderation. You need to spot questions and inappropriate messages as they arise so you can deal with them immediately.
Also, being able to pick up on subtle hints of trouble is crucial. Often, the signs of a virtual event raid are there before most people realize it. For example, the first clue that something was wrong during the disastrous March 2023 Zoom bombing was a random user joining late. Paying attention to the little things will help you see the bigger picture.
6. Active Listening
During a virtual event, the speaker will discuss their topic while the chat fills up with comments and questions. It is up to the moderator to monitor both simultaneously to stay on topic and catch queries for the question-and-answer portion.
No one in the March 2023 Zoom bombing event could have predicted a random person would join and display obscene content. Still, they could have reacted much faster if their moderator was more flexible. This skill helps you respond rapidly to all sorts of situations.
Chat moderators watch messages, manage moderation tools, follow along with the speaker and deal with poor behavior. Because of this, balancing multiple tasks is vital to success. If you can handle many things at once, your job will become much more manageable. In fact, merely believing in your multitasking ability improves your overall performance and productivity.
While most of chat moderation involves spotting and stopping bad behavior, you also spend plenty of time acting as an authority figure. You need to make announcements, outline the rules and collect questions for the speakers. If you can communicate clearly and effectively, the chat will respond much better and put more trust in you.
10. Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution can be a large part of the moderation job — especially when hundreds of people attend the event. While your goal is to keep things running smoothly, you must have a positive relationship with the attendees. How they feel about their experience impacts the hosting brand’s reputation.
When you go to private message someone or restate the rules, ensure you do so with grace, confidence and professionalism. Even though a chat moderator is an authority figure above all else, it is essential to remain impartial and understanding instead of harsh.
Chat Moderation Is Your Best Defense
Whether you deal with trolls, bots or unruly participants, chat moderation is the best defense you have. It keeps the attendees safe from harassment, and protects the business from embarrassment and reputation damage. As more of the corporate world goes digital, this position will become vital to protecting all parties from bad actors of all kinds.