Planning for an online or hybrid event entails a long list of to-dos and decisions. If you’ve done any sort of event planning formally or informally, personally or professionally that might feel like an understatement or overly simplistic. For those of you who might be new to online events don’t let that intimidate you. Our intention with this post is to help define key roles in an online production so that you can make decisions about key personnel. Knowing who you need ensures you have the right talent and skillsets for the various jobs involved in your event. At LearningTimes we also find an event checklist with general timeline about what should happen when extremely helpful too (a whole other post – take note!) and we provide those to our clients at the event kick-off meeting. But strictly talking production event roles look no further.
For an online event these are the roles you want to consider:
In-Event Technical Support
For a hybrid event you may also want to consider:
We’ll cover these roles in part 2 of this series.
At a minimum you will need a producer – they are the person or people that manage all the technical components and content of your event. At LearningTimes our producers take on an event management or project management role leading up to the event ensuring that content deliverables are being met and avoiding a content crush 48 hours before your event. On the day(s) of your event producers are often logged into your online meeting room earlier than everyone else, testing audio and video prior to the start, have often uploaded presentation materials in advance of the session and ensure the online room layout is correct (should attendees be able to turn on their mic at any time? and other similar things related to the online room configuration). A producer is often the person that is showing additional media, setting up and moving attendees in and out of breakout rooms, and screen sharing other content pertinent to the session. A producer (can be more than one person depending on the complexity of the event) is really there to ensure that the presenter can focus on the content and the audience, making the technology somewhat invisible.
In-Event Technical Support is just that. This role helps with any technical issues audience members may be having during the event. At minimum technical support should be a different person than the producer as the event is getting started as they often have a lot on their plate just prior to the event and as it is starting. How many you need for both of these roles and can one person do both typically depends on the size of the event, the complexity of the event, and the experience of your technical team.
A host and a moderator are often synonymous. This role is typically opening the session and welcoming everyone. They often are doing the introductions of the speakers and giving everyone a sense of how the session will unfold, how questions will be answered, what to do if you need technical support etc. The host might be the person moderating the question and answer section of the session or might moderate a panel discussion amongst a few speakers. In this capacity it may be important that the moderator be familiar with the topic at hand. Can a host or moderator facilitate a panel or Q&A without being a subject matter expert? Yes, they can provided that they are provided with relevant background information and typically their prep time is part of the event costs.
If your event requires facilitation typically the outcomes for the session are more than sharing information in the form of a presentation but rather advancing the group through ideas and to resolutions or actions. A facilitator is there to guide the group, remain neutral, allow space for new and possibly uncomfortable ideas to emerge, support the wisdom of the group and help them trust their abilities. In this sense facilitation is active and focused and is skillset unto itself. A host or moderator might also be a facilitator, but typically a producer does not also actively facilitate at the same time – they are two active roles that need full attention to do well.
It is important to ask yourself what type of session you are doing to determine which of these roles you need. LearningTimes is proud to be able to offer services for all these roles and certainly we work with organizations that provide their own host, moderator, or facilitator. We can compliment your team’s skillset with production and support during the online event and with our depth and experience in all of these areas we can also host, moderate, or facilitate should it be needed. Have an event and want to learn more about our approach? Contact us!
Stay tuned for part 2 where we’ll talk about camera, sound and producers on site. Subscribe to our blog and you’ll be alerted when part 2 and other helpful posts are available.
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