How to Work with a Webinar Moderator

By Sharat Sharan, John Carucci

Wearing many hats, the webinar moderator plays a big part when it comes to maintaining audience engagement through a steady and consistent flow. Typically the moderator is the first voice you hear at the webinar, setting the stage by introducing the console, discussing the housekeeping, and introducing the speaker and topics.

Flow plays a big role in engaging the audience because it keeps everything moving at a nice pace, so consider the moderator a key in the audience engagement machine. By maintaining order, keeping the speakers on track, and making sure the audience is fully aware of all that’s going on within the presentation, the journey itself adds to the engagement of all those that attend.

Here is a summary of what the moderator does to engage the audience:

  • Introduce the presentation

  • Make sure everything runs on time

  • Keep the audience in the loop

  • Deal with the Q&A

  • Thank the audience for attending

Do you know what doesn’t engage the audience? If this were a game show and you answered “Having a bad speaker,” you’d more than likely win the washer/dryer combination behind door number one. Not having a good presenter is a definite webinar killer.

All the fun engagement tools in the world can’t overcome a bad speaker. People are too busy to patiently listen to someone who isn’t giving them what they need from the discussion.

You don’t need Tony Robbins delivering your presentation, but you do need a compelling speaker at the podium. Make sure that you’re using great speakers even if they are not content experts. You may have experts who know more about the subject matter than anybody else, but they also may not be comfortable being an online speaker.

Instead of taking a chance, you can develop the content for the webinar and have a qualified speaker present it. Think of it as writing a song, and letting a better singer perform it. Then, you can always bring those experts back in for a Q&A.

Some folks are just boring or very uncomfortable in front of an audience, so you want to be really careful about putting them in front of a microphone.

The speaker should have some of these qualities:

  • Shows passion about the topic: When the speaker really understands the subject matter and feels strongly about it, it comes through to the audience.

  • Talks to the audience, not at it: The importance of this cannot be overstated. Do you want a webinar presentation to sound like a lecture from your seventh-grade science teacher or like a conversation with a colleague you’re commuting with on the train?

  • Understands the audience’s attention span: All human beings have a short attention span, and really busy people have an even shorter one. Keep the topic moving.