What you will find in this how-to:
Some of you may have never run an online session before. That is not a problem. You will not be alone in this! Office is prepared to help you every step of the way. To get you started we put together the following guide:
- Who’s who in an online session?
- Webinar? Video conference? What will this session be?
- Prepare your moderation
- How to moderate a webinar
- Sources for this how-to and more links
Who’s who in an online session?
Host / Facilitator / Moderator:
This is the person running the show. They should have the session’s agenda and ensure it is completed, the list of speakers (if applicable), answer questions and call upon speakers if needed to answer them – and should be the overall ‘face of the session’. Depending on the design of the sessions, it might be good for the moderator to keep topical input to a minimum.
Speakers / Presenter:
There can be one or more. These are the participants speaking about the topic, presenting their findings and so forth. In a smaller meeting, it might be that Moderator and Speaker are one and the same person.
This is the member of the Office running tech support for the ongoing session. They will be in the meeting with you but mostly silent, watching to ensure everything runs smoothly and help those who are in need of assistance.
The design a session depends on how you run it / set it up. We, as the Office, suggest to run sessions as a team. So make use of this structure – ask for whom from the Office will be your producer if you need someone as a first sounding board. Then see if you want to run a session as a sole moderator or even split the responsibility with a fellow member – then together you can call upon speakers to join you. If you need input / help never hesitate to contact or from the Office directly.
Webinar? Video conference? What will this session be?
While Zoom does have a Webinar interface, we are currently planning to run all live sessions as a normal ‘video conference call’.
- All participants will be muted upon entrance.
- If a participant unmutes themselves during a call, the producer will mute them again.
- The person speaking will thus have the main space on the screen.
- Why it’s a good idea to make moderator and speakers not the same person: while the speakers are on, the moderator has time to collect questions from the chat and then pose them / answer them / turn back to one of the speakers. Furthermore, this way the moderator can check for raise hand signs. (Consult this masterlist for links to Zoom tutorials – for example the raise hand feature)
- If moderator and speaker(s) are one and the same person, ask your producer how you can share responsibilities for the collection of questions and the raise hand feature.
Prepare your moderation
- When moderating a presentation, have a pre-call with the speaker(s) to learn about the topic and their structure. If you moderate a discussion, prepare a list of arguments and questions to be discussed during the session. Also make sure that if the topic might lead to controversial statements, you know how to react on this and prevent harassment.
- Think about your audience. To properly moderate a discussion, you need to know the research background of the session members so that you can meet their interests.
- Ensure the technical environment you are going to use is well prepared, tested and functional. Have a chat with your producer or read up on most common technical problems and their solutions.
- Moderating a webinar is different from moderating an in-person meeting. In case you have not moderated a webinar before, you should practice your moderation and go through your bullet points before the actual meeting happens.
How to moderate a webinar
- First and foremost: Bring in your personality while moderating. There is a reason why you are moderating the meeting. So make sure that you are yourself and that you include your character into the moderation.
- Start with an Introduction that includes presenting a rough schedule (which is part of your preparation), the topic, and yourself. By doing so, you make sure that every participant get to know the concept of the meeting and will not feel lost or worried about how to conduct a point on the schedule.
- Depending on the number of participants, you need to decide whether or not to let everyone introduce themselves. This might be a point on the agenda exclusive to smaller meetings. If you are unsure, ask the Office.
- Keep the time in mind. People tend to talk more during an online call and all participants are involved with their perspective and their research area. Therefore, it is important to regularly check the time and make sure that everyone is able to participate in the discussion/ presentation
- Keep up with the course. Even though you might have prepared questions for the session, you need to include the results and current topic of the conversation. Nevertheless, if the meeting seems to go off-topic, it is also your task to re-direct the discussion.
Sources for this how-to
- RECOMMENDED! Webinarexperts.co.uk: “Best Practices (Video): Moderate Webinars Like A Pro!” (LINK)
- Dummies.com: “How to Work with a Webinar Moderator” (LINK)
If you have more great sources, please send a link to or and we will include it here for your fellow members.