Moderator Guide

Your tasks

  • ensure that the person recording the event has a screen resolution equal to or lower than 1920x1080.
  • open the program by introducing the event, organizers and the (first) speaker
  • remind the audience of the event format and explain how and when to ask questions
  • monitor the participant list for raised hands and enable those attendees to ask questions
  • handle any technical issues
  • monitor participant behavior, including in the chat, for breaches of the code of conduct
  • give a closing remarks

The moderator role requires full concentration and continuous monitoring of multiple channels. In that sense, moderating an online event is significantly more demanding than the role of a chair in an offline conference.

Below we provide more detailed information on certain aspects of the moderator role, including instructions specific to the Zoom platform where applicable.

How to

Opening and closing remarks

At the beginning of the seminar:

  • ensure that everyone is muted and cannot unmute themselves: checkmark the "mute all participants" checkbox and uncheck the "participants may unmute themselves" checkbox
  • remind the audience that the talk is recorded and start the recording
  • deliver the opening remarks, introduce VSF and the speaker, remind the audience about the Q/A format and to please report any technical issues to you
  • turn on spotlight of the speaker’s webcam stream
  • unmute the speaker and invite them to begin their seminar

At the end of the seminar:

  • thank the speaker
  • initiate the post-talk question/answer period
  • turn off spotlighting speaker's webcam stream

NB: a virtual conference cannot have applause after the seminar ends! However, you may invite the audience to use alternatives such as the Zoom "applaud" emote.

Question guidelines

Our suggested guidelines for when questions are allowed: * short talks: after the talk ends * long talks: questions may be asked at any time

Mediating questions:

  • monitor the participants list to observe attendees signaling for questions (“raise hand” Zoom emote)
  • inform the speaker and audience of the question and signal the asker by stating their name and unmuting their microphone
  • leave the asker unmuted while interacting with the speaker
  • mute the asker when finished and “lower their hand”
  • in the event of a prolonged discussion get the talk back on track and suggest a private discussion after the seminar

Technical issues

  • speaker-side issues: where possible, try to have a second line of communication with the speakers in case an issue comes up on their end
  • audience-side issues: attendees are instructed to send chat messages directly to the moderator if technical issues arise on their end, and the moderator must make a judgement call as to whether some kind of action should be taken

Moderators should report any technical issues (and fixes) to the organizers and the VSF team and also encourage such feedback from all participants.


In the event of misconduct by any participant in video, audio, or text chat, moderators need to take the following actions (in order):

  • warn involved participant(s) of their behaviour and the possible consequences
  • remove repeat offenders from the session