Tips for Moderating a Multi-Site Videoconference

What Should the Overall Conference Moderator Do?

In addition to acting as the facilitator at your own site, if you are planning the conference and acting as the overall conference moderator you have some special items to keep in mind. You must help provide the coordination between all the sites and with any guests participating in the videoconference. Having a carefully planned agenda which has been shared with all participants will be the "key" to keeping the conference focused and on target time-wise.

Getting Ready

  • Send e-mail to all participating sites inviting them to add to the agenda and contribute information or ideas which can be used during the conference.
  • Secure a reflector site/conference server for the day and time of the conference.
  • Facilitate idea, material and activity sharing among site facilitators.
  • Refine and republish the final agenda and prepare a detailed conference time line.
  • Secure information from each site which includes the name of the site facilitator and a phone number at which they can be reached.
  • Gather questions for guest speakers from each site. Review questions and let sites know which ones would be best to ask in order to avoid duplication and to provide an opportunity for all sites to have "important questions" to ask. Take 1 question from each site or rotate the questions to keep one site from having a monopoly. It is helpful if you have a list of the questions each site wishes to ask, listed in priority order. These can be used to "fill" time if needed.
  • Secure a backup reflector/conference server or make plans for an alternative connection time in case of technical problems. Communicate this contingency plan to all participants.
  • Make arrangements for a POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) if needed for a conference call.
  • Check with each site to be sure that any materials or handouts they might need were received.
During the Conference
  • Make a connection ahead of the conference to ensure that all sites are able to connect.
  • Begin the conference with a general introduction and inform all participants of any changes to the agenda.
  • Help make transition between portions of the agenda smooth. Thanking a speaker or summarizing their comments can provide a way to bring closure to one portion before introducing or turning over the floor to the next site or speaker.
  • Provide tranisitions between speakers by addressing the site by location and using the facilitator's name.
  • Consider having a student summarize important points using the text chat feature (if available) in case some sites have difficulty hearing responses or cues.
  • Keep the group on topic and on schedule if things seem to get too far astray.
  • Tape the videoconference. (Optional, but helpful for evaluation and sharing with those unable to attend.)
  • Provide closure, final comments or summary at the end of the conference.
  • Conduct any on-line conference evaluations prior to closing comments or indicate to participants how to particpate in the evaluation process.
After the Conference