Jan-Jaap In der Maur

Jan-Jaap In der Maur is a meeting-moderator, facilitator and founder of Masters in, as well as keynote speaker on the subject of interaction & moderation.

Q: When and how did you realise that being a professional moderator would be your career?

I’m not sure whether I even have. Every time I go off stage, I doubt my own talent. Yet, every time I go back on stage again. I did my first moderation 18 years ago, by pure coincidence. About five years later, I knew I wanted to keep on doing this. And I knew that I needed to constantly grow, to keep loving it. So since then, I have forced myself to raise the bar every time.
So, is it a career? Probably
Am I a professional? That’s not for me to say.

Q: Why is it important to hire a professional meeting moderator?  

Meetings change: they become more interactive and engaging. That makes it harder to moderate, so you need a professional. If you are only looking for someone to announce the speakers, do it yourself. If you need real engagement, modern formats and real interaction: get a pro.
I mean: you invest a lot of money in meeting design, production etc. Then why lose that investment by allowing an amateur to f*** up your event? It’s like building a Formula 1 car and then asking your 89-year-old mother (who has no licence) to drive it.

“My inspiration is in people: no two are the same.”

Q: You claim that a professional moderator will bring a clear added value. What does the added value consist of? 

Actually reaching the objective. Knowing what your event needs, in the design phase and on stage. Maximum result in execution and maximum flexiblility, when needed.
Honestly, when an event is designed perfectly, there’s no real human interaction involved and nothing goes wrong, then you don’t need a moderator. But when you need someone who understands group dynamics, who ‘feels the vibe’ and who knows how to save the day invest in a moderator!

Q: Can you please explain a bit more about your engaging approach of ‘objective-based moderation that has made you famous worldwide?  

There are a few elements to this.

  • One: we at Masters in Moderation make a real connection with everyone in the room.
  • Two: we design interaction formats that help get to the targets of the event. We never use any formats just for the sake of having fun. There always is a direct link to the objectives.
  • Three: we have a very specific view on the role of the moderator: opening people’s minds, helping them to digest what they learning, making sure things change, bringing energy and connecting people.
  • Four: we never take the easy route and, in many cases, do the exact opposite of what feels natural. And the funny thing is, in most cases that way of acting turns out to feel even more natural.

“Everything is new, every minute of the day.”

Q: What is the most annoying thing that has ever happened to you while you were moderating an event?  

That everything went according to plan and that no participant did anything unexpected.

Q: If you could moderate any event in the world, which one would it be? 

Any traditional gathering of ancient tribes: Inuït, Maori, Aboriginals, Sioux … you name it.

Q:  A moderator is the mood maker of an event. He needs to engage the audience. He creates the mood with awkward, interesting, stimulating questions… Have you ever simply run out of questions? Where do you find the inspiration and the motivation to moderate each and every event as something unique? 

The moderator is not the mood maker, sorry. The participants are. The moderator is there to help them find the right mood. And no, I’ve never run out of questions. Sorry again. My inspiration is in people: no two are the same. And even an individual changes over time. So, everything is new, every minute of the day.

Q: What has been your biggest failure and how did it change you?  

Once, I took on an event that I knew deep down was not ‘meant for me’. So, once on stage, there was no way of changing. I could hardly run off, could I?
What it taught me was to be true to myself … always.

Q: What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t got around to?  

Dying of old age. Moderating a full day without talking. Sailing around the world. Becoming the Prime Minister of Holland.

Q: What is the “holy grail” of your life?  

There is no holy grail. You just have to love the little things.

Q: Do you believe in unicorns?  

Stupid question: I have two at home.