Webinar Panelist Tips

The Webinar Platform

  • PLA webinars are presented using the WebEx Event Center platform. Please review the technical requirements.
  • Prior to an orientation session and the live webinar you’ll receive e-mail messages (from messenger@webex.com) with access instructions for each specific event. Some e-mail systems mistake these messages as spam. Adding the PLA Webinars messenger@webex.com 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. The webinar itself will open in a separate Cisco WebEx Event Center presentation window (not in a window or tab of your web browser).
  • You can set up WebEx Event Manager any time prior to your orientation session. Set up Event Manager in the browser on the computer you'll use to access the webinar. If you have trouble setting up Event Manager in one browser, then be sure to try it in another browser. For example, if you're unable to set up Event Manager in Firefox, then try it in Internet Explorer.

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. You'll be given a deadline for submitting the final version of your slideshow to PLA.
  • PowerPoint is strongly recommended for your slides, as other formats can cause problems when uploaded into our webinar platform.
  • Transitions, fly-in text, and animations do not always work in our webinar platform and should be avoided.
  • We strongly recommend using standard fonts to avoid display issues caused by missing fonts on our systems. If you wish to use non-standard fonts, then ask us about a possible workaround to avoid display issues.
  • 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. The raised-hands tally is presented in real time along with the total number of attendees for comparison purposes. Previous PLA webinar presenters have had great success with this method of interaction.
    • You can also ask attendees to share their experiences/ideas or ask questions for them to type their answers 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.
    • 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.
  • Because panelist audio is handled via telephone, video embedded in slides or via screen-sharing will play without 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.
  • Panelist audio is handled by teleconference via a toll number, so you'll need to participate from a quiet location with both a long-distance enabled telephone (for your audio) and an Internet-connected computer (for your slideshow, etc.). A corded phone is preferred. Avoid speakerphones, cell phones, and cordless phones if possible. Please note: A microphone plugged into your computer cannot be used for panelist audio.
  • When you log into the webinar a pop-up message will appear in the presentation window with the telephone number, access code, and your attendee ID you need to join the teleconference as a panelist. Call the telephone number, and when prompted to do so enter the access code followed by the # key and your attendee ID followed by the # key. Please listen to the complete prompt before entering the access code or your attendee ID. The ID is required to identify you as a panelist, so make a note of it before closing the pop-up message in the presentation window. If needed, the telephone number, access code, and your attendee ID can also be found on the “Info” tab in the Event Center presentation window. You’ll need this information if you get disconnected from the teleconference and have to call in again.
  • 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 “green room” (aka practice session mode), which isolates your audio from the attendees. Conversation on the teleconference while in this “green room” 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. You'll remain in this “green room” until 15 minutes before the start time, which is when we conduct the first of two sound checks for our attendees.
  • After leaving the “green room” mode, your audio will be muted and remain muted until it’s time for you to begin your presentation. When muted, the phone icon by your name in the participants’ window will have an “X” next to it and the microphone button will be red. While muted, you can communicate with PLA staff and other panelists via the Chat window. Be sure to select “All Panelists” in the “Send to” menu. If the “Send to” menu says “All Participants” instead, then everyone—including attendees—will be able to see your chat message.
  • Prior to the beginning of your presentation, please feel free to engage with the attendees via Chat. 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 the phone, 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 avoid paper rustling.

If Something Goes Wrong

  • Keep calm. Because you’re connected to the teleconference via phone, but logged into the webinar via your computer, if you lose one of those connections the other may still be okay. So, even if you lose your Internet connection, the attendees may still be able to hear you speak. And if you’re disconnected from the teleconference, you may still be logged into the webinar and able to communicate with PLA staff and the other panelists via Chat.
  • If you lose your Internet connection (or if for some other reason you’re unable to see the webinar on your computer screen or control your slideshow), then tell us via telephone. PLA staff can take control of your slideshow and advance it for you as needed. You’ll probably need to ask the PLA staff to advance to the next slide at the appropriate times. Remember, silence can be more disruptive for attendees than hearing a panelist ask for help.
  • If you get disconnected from (or are unable to hear) the teleconference, but still have a dial tone, then call back into the teleconference. It would be helpful if you acknowledged the problem via Chat, so staff and attendees are aware of the situation.
  • If you’re talking but the attendees aren’t hearing you, then you may be muted in the teleconference. You can unmute yourself; or you can ask PLA staff to unmute you via Chat. If you’re not muted in the teleconference (i.e. no “X” next to your name), then check to see if your own phone is muted instead.

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 will be unmuted during the Q&A session—so remember not to make any noise that might be heard by attendees.