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Managing a Virtual Session

2020 Virtual Annual Meeting > Meeting Essentials > Managing a Virtual Session

Chairs and Zoom Monitors both have an important role to play in maintaining a civil and professional space for all participants. Please review the Annual Meeting Policies and 2020 Annual Meeting Policy Updates for important guidance about appropriate behavior and, under “social media,” consent and professional tone. Chairs, the General Suggestions for Session Chairs that we sent you earlier also covers some of these issues. 

We have compiled instructions for using Zoom and the conference platform. Please familiarize yourself with these items prior to your sessions, so you can advise panelists and participants who need help:

All sessions will use Zoom meetings that are launched directly from the Schedule on the conference platform.

Registered attendees can see the conference platform at We’re still incorporating late change requests, so the schedule will change in the days before the meeting.

  1. The first time that you visit the conference platform, you will see a “Login with AFS” button; click it, enter the email address that you registered at AFS with, then look for an email confirmation message with the link to the protected content, like the schedule. The platform will remember you as long as you stay signed in. Try this out as soon as possible, and contact if you have any trouble.
  2. View your session in the Schedule. On the session details page, you’ll find a button to join the meeting. In advance, the button reads “Room Opens at …”; that will change to “Join Session” at your scheduled time.
  3. You will be able to access your Zoom meeting up to 30-minutes before your scheduled start time. You can use that time to coordinate and practice. Attendees will wait in a Zoom waiting room until they are admitted into the session.
  4. Only AFS staff or chairs can start the session, but either one can assign the hosting role to the Zoom monitor upon arrival.
  5. Either Chairs or Monitors will need to admit the attendees when the session is scheduled to begin.
  6. Either Chairs or Monitors should read the script below at the start of the session.


  • Tell your panelists that they should also arrive early. 
  • Discuss with the Moderator in advance whether you want them to be in charge of monitoring questions from Chat that should be raised for discussion with the panelists, or whether there is another panelist who will moderate discussion.
  • An AFS staff member will be there to start the session and meet you in the Zoom room about 15-minutes in advance of your session. If you’d like more time, you can click the “Start the Session” button to launch the meeting up to 30 minutes before your scheduled start. You/staff will need to admit your panelists and Zoom monitor from the waiting room.
  • Once your Zoom monitor arrives, you or AFS staff can make them a Co-Host. 
  • Note that the Zoom sessions will not end automatically, so you will be responsible for working together to note when the session should conclude based on the scheduled end time and session length.

Zoom Monitors:

  • Please join the session at least fifteen minutes early so that you can be added to the session as a Zoom Monitor, review the controls, and firm up your plans with the Chair and panelists. The Chair will be in charge of making sure that panelists have everything they need in order to participate, but you should be prepared to assist. You may need to make panelists co-hosts so they can share their screens, which they will need if they are playing AV from their devices.
  • Try playing AV files before attendees arrive. If you have difficulties that you can’t resolve on your own, email as soon as possible, preferably before the session begins.
  • Monitors are responsible for muting participants, letting people into the sessions, monitoring the chat for any questions or technical issues that arise, contacting AFS staff ( if further help is needed, and keeping track of the time so that the session ends when it is supposed to. 
  • Your role is primarily about handling the technical side of things so that session participants can focus on the content being presented and the discussion.
  • Discuss with the Chair in advance whether you should be in charge of monitoring questions from chat that should be raised for discussion with the panelists, or whether there is another panelist who will moderate chat discussion.
  • When the meeting begins, the Monitor should take time to orient attendees to Chat and Participant Reactions. You could read the following script or paste it in the Chat :
“Hello everyone! I am here to help support the Zoom session so that the panel will run smoothly. Note that this session is being recorded by AFS, and we ask that you not record the session on your own or take screenshots unless you have requested permission from the presenters.
Please remember to mute and unmute yourselves as you participate. It’s best to stay on mute unless you are speaking so background noise won’t interrupt. 
You are welcome to use the Chat box to ask questions, or the reactions buttons, all found at the bottom of your screen. You may also raise your hand by using the button you’ll find when you click on “Participants” tab at the bottom of your Zoom screen.
Feel free to message me privately through Chat if you are having any issues with Zoom. I will now hand things over to the session chair to introduce the panel.”
  • During the panel session, the Monitor should post reminders occasionally throughout the session:
    • For anyone who has joined the session late, I’m here as support for this session so message me if you have problems.  Also, you can post your questions and comments here in the chat! 
    • (Only if needed): Please be kind, respectful, and professional as we support and discuss our colleagues’ work.  

If you encounter inappropriate behavior:

  • Try a direct private remark to the participant politely asking for a change. Avoid “You” statements and focus on the feelings of others. Assume that the attendee is behaving in good faith. For instance: “Some attendees may feel uncomfortable with your [remarks]/[tone]. Please [rephrase your comments]/[consider your tone]/etc.”
  • If a direct message does not solve the problem, you may warn the participant that you will mute/remove them. 
  • Don’t hesitate to use the tools at your disposal, including removing them from the session, if a warning doesn’t work, or if the behavior is so inappropriate that it requires immediate intervention.

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