Webinar Panelist Tips

The Webinar Platform

  • PLA webinars are presented using the Zoom platform. Please review the technical requirements for webinar panelists.
  • Prior to a panelist training session and the live webinar you’ll receive email messages (from no-reply@zoom.us) with access instructions for each specific event. Some email systems mistake these messages as spam. Adding the PLA Webinars no-reply@zoom.us address to your “trusted senders” list now may keep the messages from being mistaken as spam. Contact us at plawebinars@ala.org if you don’t receive a message and can’t find it in your junk mail.
  • The access instruction messages contain a URL specific to you and the event in which you’ll be participating. To join the webinar, click (or copy and paste) the URL and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • If you have trouble joining a webinar in one browser, then be sure to try it in another browser. For example, if you're unable to join using Chrome, then try it in Firefox.

Your Presentation

  • It's best if we can use your actual slideshow during the orientation, even if it’s still in draft at that time.
  • Use transitions, fly-in text, and animations judiciously.
  • We encourage you to consider including interactive elements in your presentation to keep the online audience engaged:
    • One of the simplest ways to engage attendees is to ask them to “raise your hand” in response to a question or statement. Previous PLA webinar presenters have had great success with this method of interaction.
    • We can also do formal yes/no or multiple-choice type polls. If you plan to include any attendee polls in your presentation, then please let us know as soon as possible so we can discuss with you how best to integrate them into your presentation.
    • Whenever possible, we encourage you to ask attendees to share their experiences/ideas or ask questions in the Chat window. If the size of the audience and number of responses allows, you can then verbally acknowledge or summarize the responses for the audience. It’s easy for attendees because most are already familiar with using a chat window.
  • If you wish to use video with audio embedded in slides or shared via another application, then let us know as soon as possible. Zoom requires installation of a desktop application to share audio.

Participating in the Webinar

  • On the day of the event, it’s important that you join the webinar at 30–45 minutes before the start time (no later than 30 minutes before!) so we can verify your connection and audio quality. If we discover a problem, then this extra time may be needed to resolve it or find a workaround.
  • When logging into the webinar, a hard-wired Internet connection (DSL, LAN, T1, etc.) is preferred. Avoid a wireless Internet connection if possible.
  • Remember to turn off (or at least silence) your cell phone. If you’re calling from a multi-line phone (or a phone with call waiting), then silence its ringer as well.
  • Panelists join the webinar in a private, pre-broadcast practice session mode, which isolates your audio from the attendees. Conversation in this practice session mode is NOT heard by attendees, so PLA staff and panelists can speak with each other to resolve any audio problems and address any last-minute questions. We typically exit practice session mode no later than 15 minutes before the start time.
  • After leaving practice session mode, your audio will be muted and remain muted until it’s time for you to begin your presentation. While muted, you can communicate with PLA staff and other panelists via the Chat window. Be sure send these "backstage" chat messages to “All panelists” so they're not visible to attendees.
  • Prior to the beginning of your presentation, please feel free to engage with the attendees via Chat by sending messages to "All panelists and attendees." It can even be as simple as asking attendees where they’re from or what the weather is like at their location.
  • When presenting, speak clearly and directly into your microphone or telephone, and be careful not to speak too softly.
  • It’s a good idea to have both a digital and hard copy of your presentation, but try to avoid paper rustling.

Attendee Questions

  • Most PLA webinars conclude with a 10–15 minute Q&A session with the panelists. Attendees will submit their questions throughout the webinar, and then our moderator will read them to you for a response during the Q&A session. If you’re one of multiple panelists, then be aware that all panelists’ audio is unmuted during the Q&A session—so remember not to make any noise that might be heard by attendees.