• Kirby Ong

5 Lessons Moderating a Global Virtual Conference During Covid-19

Updated: Apr 21


On 1st April 2020, our clients at Draper Startup House hosted a meticulously curated 24-hour virtual conference spanning across different continents from across the world. We kicked off the conference in Asia, with amazing speakers from FAIA, Remo, Grab, 100x.VC, moving on to Europe, with speakers from Wework, nChain, Netcorp, and ending it off with the US, with speakers from Kabam Games, QuotaPath, and a Keynote from Tim Draper.


The goal of the conference was to help entrepreneurs, founders, and those who are in the start-up scene to understand how to overcome difficult situations, manage finances, deal with people and manage teams remotely.



What does virtual community moderation look like?


In a physical panel/conference:

the role of the moderator is to set the tone, pace and control of the content that is being presented, and at the same time being watchful of the time and relevance of the topics and questions that are being presented. Part of the responsibility of the moderator is to ensure that the discussion is lively, engaging and worthwhile.

With everything that is going on at the moment and with almost half the planet under lockdown, many physical events have transitioned online. This transition is speedy, and we are beginning to see more and more virtual events, both locally and globally. This article aims to share some tips that I've personally learnt while assisting with moderating the Breakthrough Conference.


Key takeaways from moderating a virtual conference


1) Be Adaptable


Anything can happen. Be prepared for anything that might happen while on the conference, and get ready to act on Plan B immediately. At the start of our conference, there were some issues with streaming and permissions with YouTube, and we had to immediately communicate with our attendees to join us on the new links on Facebook and Periscope. When technical issues happen, and they will, be prepared with a backup plan should things fail, and execute without hesitation.


2) Be Focused


Moderating conversations can take up a lot of your attention. Remove all distractions and stay focused on the conversation that is happening. Finding a suitable environment to work from, can help with focusing your mind on the task, at the same time giving you a safe space where you are able to process your thoughts and communicate that.


3) Be Prepared


Prepare introductions for speakers beforehand, along with what the topic that they are speaking on, and keep that in a notepad on the side that you can easily click back to, copy, and paste into the chat. There will be new people constantly streaming in, therefore, it would be helpful for community moderators to repeatedly comment again to inform newcomers who is currently speaking, and the topic that they are speaking about. Alternatively, streaming the speaker name and topic on the main video also works very well.


4) Be Responsive


Throughout the virtual conference, with comments enabled, there will be community members who will be asking questions, greeting others, interacting on the page. As community moderators, we have to be responsive to members who are interacting, sometimes a simple "Hi, how are you?", in response goes a long way, oftentimes opening up the conversations further, engaging them deeper and allowing for more expressions both for the member and for others who might be monitoring the interaction.


5) Be Decisive


Decisiveness is key. Know what you want, decide on an action to get there, and work on that. In a virtual conference, there is no time to be indecisive and not know how you want to achieve a goal. Effectiveness is key. Why? Every single decision/indecision affects all viewers. Imagine a decision that takes 1 minute. Multiply that by the number of viewers you have. Every minute of indecision affects each and every single one of the viewers, and thus it is imperative to be decisive.


I'd also like to take this opportunity to invite readers to join the Draper Entrepreneurship Network.


What is Draper Entrepreneurship Network?

Draper Entrepreneurship Network(DEN) is a Global Network of Entrepreneurs on Slack, and the mission is to create a network of one million movers and shakers across the globe to help each other through adversity and celebrate the wins.


Join DEN here: https://den.draperstartuphouse.com/


Thank you all for reading, I hope you enjoyed the read. Let me know if this helps you with your moderation of virtual conferences! Feel free to reach out to me on linkedin to connect: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirby-ong/


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