Many guides on how to best create and deliver a webinar focus on the speakers and presenters.
There is good reason for this: these are the team members that will have the task of actually conveying the information you have to the audience.
Whether the viewers walk away having learned something new and willing to come back or unsatisfied and confused depends in large part on the presenter.
However, there is another, fundamental role when it comes to relating with your audience: a moderator.
This person’s job will be to keep an eye on potential audience issues in real time, and attempt to solve as many problems as possible while the speaker is presenting.
Additionally, the moderator will be available for the audience to ask questions to if something is unclear,
whereby he will answer immediately if possible, or add the questions to the final Q&A if they are more than he can handle at the moment.
Finally, it will be the moderator’s job to pose the audience’s questions to the presenter at the end of the webinar.
This may seem like a difficult and boring job, but it doesn’t have to be! Aside from being completely necessary to your team, being a moderator can be a fun and rewarding experience.
Just make sure to follow these 5 pieces of advice:
Preparation Is key
First of all, as a moderator you will have to be well versed in the topic of your webinar.
Even if you are not directly presenting, you will doubtlessly receive questions on the content of your talk.
Make sure you at least know basic and intermediate-level concepts so you can answer many potential questions on the fly. For particularly complex or time-consuming answers, add the questions to the “for Q&A” list. Don’t get too complacent with this though: if an audience member can receive an answer immediately they will have a better time while listening to the presentation and you will seem much more professional.
Here’s something that can really help you out: before the webinar, jot down a list of the most common questions and technical issues you think may arise, and prepare answers for them. This way, when some of them inevitably come up, you’ll be ready to tackle them immediately.
Be Friendly And Engaging
As the first line of contactyour team has with the viewers, you will represent the whole group when you talk in chat. Remember that, and try to reflect the tone and level of formality your webinar is going for in your interactions. As a general rule, moderators should be friendly and engaging with audience members, encouraging them to get involved with chat and questions, while not distracting them from the main presentation.
Don’t be afraid of being strict with obnoxious audience members that are disrupting the flow of your webinar, though. People in breach of your basic rules (such as using profanity or spamming chat) should be issued one stern warning, followed by a mute/ban command for repeated offenses.
Have a mental checklist of the most common complaints and issues a viewer may have. In general, audience members will either have content-based or technical issues. Respectively, these could be: “What did the presenter mean by that word?” and “My stream is losing audio”. Both of these types of complaints can be mild or acute, depending on the extent to which they prevent people from enjoying your webinar.
A good rule of thumb would be to prioritize the answers to these complaints like so:
Severe technical issueà Severe content issue à Secondary technical issue à Secondary content issue
If your team has a technical expert at the ready, make sure you pass on the technical concerns to him, while you answer the content questions.
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
One of the most powerful tools at your disposal as a moderator is, ironically, completely separate from the chat.
You should have a secondary computer on hand (or a different window on your main one) where you simply have an instance of the webinar stream running from an audience member’s perspective.
You will be able to see with their eyes, and fix any issue that may come up much faster.
Finally, being in continuous contact with the audience means that you will undoubtedly receive questions outside of the scope of your current webinar.
In these cases, the way you answer to the person asking the question is very important.
Avoid flat-out refusing to answer and saying that this topic will not be tackled: it will disappoint the viewer and you will have thrown away a valuable marketing tool.
Instead, collect these “unanswerable questions”, and in your response hint that they may be tackled in your future talks (be honest though: if you have no intention of answering them, don’t make stuff up!).
Once the webinar is over, present the most interesting questions that came up to the rest of your team.
If they fit in well with future topics, answering them will go a long way towards rewarding your audience members for repeated participation.