So many different words are used to describe the different roles people can perform during a webinar or other digital event: we have moderators, hosts, facilitators, presenters and speakers, to name a few. So what’s the difference, and, more importantly, what role do these terms describe and why are they important?
Well, first things first.
When it comes to digital events at least, a moderator, facilitator and host are essentially the same thing. In some cases the roles of moderator and facilitator can be split into two — particularly if you want to create space for a sponsor that’s not otherwise engaged in presenting content. A facilitator may read and prioritise questions from the audience, for example, leaving the moderator or host to welcome the audience, introduce the speakers and keep the event to time.
Presenters and speakers usually also perform the same role, which is to be your subject matter expert. Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule. If you’re hosting an awards night, for example, your presenter may be more of a professional MC than a subject matter expert — sometimes known as a link presenter, who provides short verbal links between segments in a live broadcast.
What is the role of a speaker/presenter?
The primary role of speakers, or presenters, in a webinar is to deliver content.
They should be passionate and enthusiastic, know their topic area, and be comfortable presenting online and speaking directly to a camera.
They’re essentially the stars of the show — your lead actors — while your other content is your supporting cast. Their role is to make a connection with your audience, as they provide a chapter in the narrative that makes up the journey of your event.
Getting the most out of your speakers will make your event more engaging. They may also help to expand registrants by attracting an audience that follows them already, and you may be able to provide each other with co-marketing opportunities before, during, and after your webinar.
It can be very beneficial to get all your speakers together, along with your moderator, before your webinar takes place.
This not only provides the opportunity for everyone to meet each other as well as the moderator, which will help everyone to relax on the day, it will also give you a chance to walk through the webinar runsheet together.
It’s important that your presenters are enthusiastic about their content. Three in four webinar webinar attendees we surveyed for the 2020 Redback Report said passion and good online delivery were essential qualities in a great presenter, while only one in five (22%) said the same thing about them being knowledgeable about the content itself!
What is the role of a moderator?
Broadly, a moderator controls and leads a discussion between a group of people, but doesn’t take any particular point of view.
A moderator is responsible for ensuring the smooth on-air running of the event, including welcoming the audience, introducing the speakers and presenters involved and managing the technology once your webinar is underway.
They’re the person you’re relying on to make sure your webinar keeps flowing and builds momentum, while keeping the audience interested.
Their job is to introduce the topic and the presenters/speakers, keep the event on schedule and make sure everyone sticks to the agenda so there’s time to ask questions at the end.
They also make sure speakers don’t stray off topic and properly address any questions they’ve received from the audience. They may also interview the speakers and moderate questions from the crowd.
The moderator will often also be in charge of any interactive elements such as holding polls and surveys, and taking questions (unless a facilitator specifically takes on that role).
In workshop-style events, moderators are often also responsible for managing the technology, including doing things like changing the status of users, for example from a viewer to a speaker, removing participants from meetings, and muting everyone’s microphones.
Why it’s important to get your moderator involved early
It’s a good idea to get your moderator involved in the planning stages of your webinar.
An effective moderator should have a good knowledge of your topic areas, and the issues affecting the business and its industry sector, including the relevance it has to each of your speakers.
This enables your moderator to gain insights into the motivations of your speakers and the opportunities, issues and key challenges they face, which builds trust and rapport. It also means your moderator knows the topic well enough to ask intelligent questions.
The focus of your moderator should be on the most effective ways to present key messages, to ensure that your business and experts are presented in the best possible way, to keep your event moving to help ensure it reaches its objectives.
If you’re using a DIY webinar platform, your moderator will run the show.
If you choose to go with a managed webinar service provider, having your moderator sit down with your webinar producer to highlight the goals and objectives of your event is a good way to get some ideas on the best way to get your key messages across.
At Redback, we help our customers to present more than 200 webinars and digital events a year, including supplying moderation and facilitation services. Reach out if we can help take the stress out of your digital event program.