How To Moderate A Webinar. An overview for Webinar Moderators.

As part of our “Webinar basics” series, we take a look at a number of important webinar-related questions and provide the quick answers you need to start your journey into more detail on the subject. Whether you have never run webinars before or are just struggling to create better webinars, the Webinar Basics series is designed to act as a reference point.

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In this article…

We look at how a good Webinar Moderator can make your webinars great. That’s right. The step up from ‘good’ moderator to ‘great’ webinar is intentional. The same goes for ‘great’ moderator to ‘excellent’ webinar. That’s how important and impactful the role of a Webinar Moderator is. If you’ve always wondered how you can up-level your webinars, and you’re not currently using a Webinar Moderator, that’s where you want to start.

However, in webinars the use of a Webinar Moderator is often an after-thought. In some cases, Webinar Moderators are not used at all. In this article we explain why a Webinar Moderator is so important and we share everything you need to know about how to moderate a webinar.

1. Understand the role of a webinar moderator

Webinar moderators have an active role in the webinar. If they don’t, they’re just a host. Ideally, the webinar moderator is a dedicated person rather than being one of the speakers who also happens to take on the role of moderator. This allows each contributor to put their full focus into the role.

The webinar moderator has an important role to play before AND during the webinar. This article takes you through the detailed aspects. However, at a high level, the pre-webinar role is to prepare and align, while the in-webinar role is to communicate and facilitate. This means that the role of a webinar moderator is more than just an on-air role. Read on to get an explanation of what that means.

2. Understand the impact of a webinar moderator

Never underestimate the impact a good webinar moderator has on a webinar. While the content should always be the star of the show, the moderator ensures that the flow and overall tone of the webinar meets the audience’s expectations. Obviously, the speakers are responsible for presenting the content, but the moderator is able to tease more insights out of the presenters (check points 18 and 19), and audience engagement rises and falls with the actions of the moderator (check point 20). In addition, moderators are responsible for the first and last impression the audience has of the webinar. These are very memorable points in the webinar and have a strong impact on whether the audience remains in the webinar and, indeed, takes action after the webinar.

3. Have a kick-off meeting with the webinar organiser and speakers

A webinar is a joint effort by a range of stakeholders and contributors, and the webinar moderator is an important part of that effort. As such, moderators should be involved from the beginning. If not already arranged, the moderator should request or arrange an initial kick-off meeting with the webinar organiser and speaker(s).

This meeting provides the opportunity for contributors to get acquainted and discuss the webinar’s purpose, the initial goals, as well as key points such as timelines, expectations, and roles & responsibilities. Without a kick-off meeting involving the webinar moderator, the risk increases that the role of moderator becomes an afterthought, which will impact the quality and production value of the webinar.

4. Familiarise yourself with the webinar topic area

As a moderator, you won’t need to know the details of the webinar content to the extent that you could present it yourself. However, having an understanding of the webinar’s topic area will help the moderator contribute much more to the webinar. Knowing the context of the webinar topic allows moderators to ask speakers for deeper explanations, put audience questions into context, create more intentional Q&A sessions, as well as being able to act as a counterpart to the speaker (see point 18).

5. Understand the intended outcome and purpose of the webinar

Webinars can have a range of different intended outcomes, for example demand generation, lead generation, informative thought leadership, training & education, internal communication, customer communication and more. With an understanding of the intended outcome, the webinar moderator can ensure that their delivery, audience engagement, call to action, and curation of audience questions during the Q&A session are aligned with the aim of the webinar.

6. Align with the speakers on the webinar format

Webinars can come in a range of different formats (check out this article about The Power Of Webinar Formats). It is easy to assume that you already know the intended format of the webinar. However, the speakers or organisers may have a different view on what it should be. It is therefore important for the moderator to align with other contributors and be clear on what the webinar format should be. As a result, the webinar moderator can set audience expectations early, adjust their style and delivery accordingly, and be better prepared for the different parts of the webinar’s agenda. If there is no defined format for the webinar, the moderator has an opportunity to increase the overall production quality of the webinar by agreeing with the speakers what the format and style of the webinar should be.

7. Define and communicate the different ‘on-air’ roles and responsibilities

All on-air contributors, including the moderator, should have distinct and agreed roles and responsibilities. Never assume that everyone else knows what they are supposed to do when the webinar goes live. Instead, coordinate and agree early on what the roles and responsibilities should be. Consider all aspects of the webinar, including welcome, housekeeping, presentation, hand-overs, demos, polls, Q&A, calls-to-action, and good-byes. If you have ever attended a webinar where the moderator and speakers spoke over each other, cut each other off, or where there were awkward silences, you can be sure that this was due to a lack of alignment on roles and responsibilities. Unfortunately, this detracts from the quality of the content and the audience’s overall perception of the webinar. In turn, this can reflect badly on the company organising the webinar. Once you are live on air, it should be clear to all contributors who does what, as there will be very little opportunity to coordinate and make it look smooth with an audience watching.

8. Familiarise yourself with the webinar content

In point 4 we spoke about being familiar with the webinar’s general topic area. Good moderators take this a step further and become familiar with the webinar content itself as well. This point is all about increasing the contribution a moderator can make to the webinar by being able to have deeper conversations with the speaker(s). More understanding of the content = better on-air conversations. Think about your favourite TV or Radio anchors. When they bring guests on their show, they usually know a lot about the guest’s preferred subject matter. The audience will appreciate the quality of the conversation and insights gained from such a conversation. And, ultimately, the audience experience and satisfaction are key to your webinar’s success.

9. Familiarise yourself with the webinar platform

While being familiar with the webinar’s content (see point 4 and point 8) is important, webinar moderators should also be comfortable with how the webinar platform works. Moderators don’t have to be technical experts, but an understanding of the audience and presenter interfaces helps them to point out helpful aspects to the audience (e.g. how/where to ask questions, how to answer polls etc). Being familiar with the presenter interface on the backend also ensures a smooth operation during the webinar. At WebinarExperts, our producers run alignment calls with moderators and speakers to ensure they understand how it works. But of you don’t have a producer, you should be proactive in finding out yourself.

10. Determine which type of audience interactivity is appropriate for the webinar

Audiences perceive your webinar as more valuable if they have the opportunity to participate and engage through interaction (e.g. asking questions, answering polls, giving feedback on surveys etc). Depending on the webinar format and goals, some interactivity options may be more appropriate than others. However, in general, some interactivity is preferable to no interactivity. There is a lot of insight that can be gained from having audiences engage in webinar interactivity.

11. Determine a show-flow for the webinar

Leaving a webinar to “run itself” may seem like a good idea to create an authentic and organic experience, but rarely does this benefit the audience. At a minimum, an agenda for the webinar is needed to give it some structure. However, a pre-defined and agreed show-flow will ensure that the webinar runs smoothly and to time.

In case you are unaware, a show-flow is an agreed running order that shows timings, speakers, and content elements for different sections of the webinar. A show-flow is a reference document that serves the contributors (i.e. moderator, speakers, producer) for a full view of what has been planned and agreed for the webinar content. It helps to smoothly bring the relevant assets and speakers on screen, while staying within the timings that have been agreed and rehearsed. For those who feel this is too restrictive, it is important to know that a show-flow can plan for a webinar delivery that feels authentic and organic. And a well-planned webinar is more conducive to a good audience experience than a webinar without a clear allocation of agenda points and timings.

12. Have a logistical dry-run

Preparation ahead of any webinar is important. This does not only relate to content, but also the on-air logistics. The moderator and speaker(s) should meet a few days prior to the webinar to have a logistical dry-run. During this dry-run the moderator and speaker(s) should talk through all the different elements of the webinar. It is not necessary to present the content during this dry-run (this should be saved for a content dry-run between speakers). Instead, the focus should be on questions such as who speaks when (e.g. also during the moderator’s introductions at the start of the webinar), who hands over to whom (e.g. is the moderator brought in between speakers), who runs the poll questions (including whether speakers are expected to comment on poll results), and how does the final thank-yous and good-byes work. Having done a logistical dry-run ahead of the webinar ensures that the live webinars runs more smoothly.

13. Get your audio, video, lighting, and background right

Webinars are highly visual, and the audience expects the audio-visual experience to be good. There is no reason not to have good audio and video. HD webcams and good quality microphones are affordable and easy to use. But don’t forget about your lighting and what is visible in the background. As a moderator (and of course speakers) these are important factors to get right. Take a look at this explainer video for more information.

14. Prepare a script and/or notes

No webinar should ever sound scripted, but that doesn’t mean a moderator can’t benefit from a script. In fact, in the heat of the moment of a live webinar it is easy for a webinar moderator to forget to mention some of their key points. Consider making notes, or even preparing a script that is written the way you speak. That way it can be read out without it sounding scripted. An additional benefit of a moderator script, especially for intros and outros, is that it creates consistency across all of your webinars. It also means that should someone else take the role of moderator, they too will have the same consistent approach to running a webinar.

15. Prepare seeded questions for the Q&A portion

Question and answer sessions are firm favourites of the webinar audience. It provides an opportunity to engage and interact with the speakers. Receiving answers to their questions is a contributing factor to audience members returning for future webinars. However, despite the best efforts by a moderator to encourage the audience to submit their questions, a Q&A session may be slow to get started. In this situation, it helps to have 3-4 questions prepared that can be used to begin the conversation. A moderator should agree these with the speakers, have them ready for the Q&A session, and know which speaker will answer which of the seeded questions.

16. Deliver a solid introduction

First impressions count. A moderator should prepare a great introduction for the webinar, including a welcome, the individual introduction of speakers, as well as housekeeping items (e.g. how the audience can ask questions, and how the audience can access the on-demand recording). A strong and well-prepared introduction makes a good first impression and sets the webinar off on the right path.

17. Prepare and cover housekeeping items

Housekeeping may not be the most exciting part of a webinar, but it does address early questions the audience may have. For example: how to ask questions, whether the slides are available for download, or whether the webinar is being recorded etc. By addressing these questions during the quick housekeeping notices at the start of the webinar, the audience will be paying attention to the content from the very beginning, rather than being distracted at the start of the webinar by spending time typing in their questions.

18. Act as a counterpart to the speaker(s)

At the start of this article, we mentioned that a webinar moderator has an active part to play in a webinar. As such, the moderator should think of themselves as an active contributor to the webinar. The moderator is someone the presenter(s) can talk to during the webinar and someone who can ask the presenters to elaborate on key points they make. This will be very clear during a live Q&A session at the end of the webinar, but should also be the case throughout the webinar. This approach ensures that the audience will hear different voices and see different people on screen, as opposed to listening to a long presentation by a single contributor. By acting as a counterpart to the speakers, a moderator creates a webinar that is easier to listen to and engage with.

19. Act as the voice of the audience

Webinars are typically a 1-to-many format, meaning it is a livestream that doesn’t allow for verbal interaction by the audience. However, audiences still have questions they can submit in writing. With that in mind, a good moderator should see themselves as the voice of the audience. This can be limited to putting the audience’s questions to the speakers during the Q&A, but a good moderator will also anticipate the audience’s thoughts and need for clarification of certain points made by the speaker. By putting themselves in the shoes of the audience, the moderator can act as the voice of the audience and contribute on their behalf to the webinar content.

20. Engage the audience

As a webinar moderator, you are the main person to engage the audience. The webinar audience is an active part of the webinar (albeit they can only submit written questions and comments), so you should engage them throughout the webinar. Frequently ask them for their opinions, questions, feedback, and ideas on the content and subject of the webinar.

Imagine a face-to-face scenario where you are talking to someone about a particular topic, with a group of people listening into the conversation. It’s unlikely that you would ignore them if they had a question or wanted to add something to the conversation, right? In the same way, you don’t want to ignore your webinar audience. Find the right time and cadence to ask the audience to submit their questions and comments, as well as engage in a poll or download a related asset. This level of interactivity will also provide you with some great insight into what your audience thinks and is interested in.

21. Manage on-air logistics

Once the webinar is live, part of your role as the webinar moderator is to ensure that the webinar content flows smoothly. You don’t want awkward pauses, two speakers talking at the same time and over each other, or uncertainty over who should speak next etc. If you have followed point 11 and point 12 of this article, the management of the webinar’s on-air logistics becomes much easier. It’s important to remember that if the moderator doesn’t do it, either nobody will do it or someone will do it in a way that wasn’t planned. Either way, it’s an outcome you want to avoid.

22. Be aware of time and manage timings

Webinar presenters tend to be very focused on delivering their content during the webinar. It is easy for them to lose track of time, especially if the content or Q&A have turned into a lively discussion. Or it may be the case that you get a speaker who just likes to talk, or simply doesn’t realise what time it is, or how long the webinar was meant to be. As a webinar moderator, you should always be aware of timings, both for individual sections and contributors, as well as for the overall webinar. It’s the moderator’s responsibility to keep the speakers and overall webinar to time. That does mean, at times, asking a speaker to come to a close. It also means that you should keep an eye on the volume of audience questions being submitted. If there are a lot of questions, there is a case to be made to finish the presentation a little sooner than planned and switching to a Q&A session. After all, an audience member will perceive answers to their questions as more valuable than a general presentation.

23. Maintain high energy throughout the webinar

Over the course of a 60-minute webinar it is easy for energy levels to drop. However, an animated speaker (within reason) is much easier to listen to than a speaker whose delivery has become monotonous. As a webinar moderator, you should keep an eye on the general energy levels in the webinar (including your own). If the energy level drops, you can interject with a question or comment to inject some new energy. For some speakers it won’t be natural to maintain an engaging level of energy for 60 minutes. Often that results in the first 10 minutes being engaging, leaving 50 minutes where the audience listens to a low-energy presentation. This can result in early drop-offs and an overall reduction in audience size. Always be aware of the energy level and what the webinar sounds like to an audience member.

24. Be confident

Confidence is audible. If you have internalised the role of the moderator and followed the advice in this article, you are going to be confident in what you do. That is good for you and it is good for the audience. People like listening to confident people.


There are many aspects that make a good (or great) webinar moderator. Many moderators want to provide a good audience experience, but often don’t know how to. That’s entirely normal and expected, unless you moderate webinars every week. In this article we have touched on 24 different points that allow you to become a better webinar moderator. Many of these points are easier to understand and internalise when you put yourself in the shoes of the audience. Ask yourself, how you would feel as an audience member if the moderator didn’t do one (or any) of the points above. Would it create a better or a worse experience for you as an audience member. Always remember that you run the webinar for the benefit of the audience. If they like what they see, they will engage and come back for more. There is a lot you can do as a webinar moderator to influence the audience’s perception and future engagement with your content and organisation. Start with a handful of points from this article and then begin to add more. Very soon you will be a better moderator and your audience will thank you for it.

For more info take a look at more Webinar Basics. our best practices, our Webinar Blog, and our videos. Alternatively, get in touch with us today.

Good luck with your webinars!