Using Zoom to support virtual presentations creates an opportunity to include participants who can’t travel, but it also requires special handling to make the most of the remote situation. AFS has tips for planning ahead to ensure successful virtual presentations.

2023 Virtual and Hybrid Sessions

This year, to maintain the accessibility created by virtual presentations for presenters who cannot travel, AFS is offering two days of dedicated virtual programming, October 11-12, in addition to a limited number of hybrid sessions during our four-day, in-person gathering in Portland, Oregon, November 1-4. Fully virtual and hybrid sessions will be run through Zoom to connect the panelists and manage Q&A. Most hybrid sessions will be recorded to provide the opportunity for asynchronous access, but presenters can opt-out of recording by contacting [email protected].

AFS will provide Zoom meeting access using the Annual Meeting Hub, as well as assistance as needed for virtual and hybrid session chairs and presenters.

Registered virtual attendees may be able to connect to live sessions during both the fully virtual and in-person portions of the meeting, but AFS does not have capacity to provide technical support for audience members. Recordings of most virtual and hybrid sessions will be available within 48 hours for asynchronous access.

See Using the Meeting Hub for more information about log in and access to Zoom and recordings.

Know Your Virtual Setting 

Most sessions will be conducted as Zoom meetings (not webinars), where you can see all other participants in the meeting.

All remote participants will be placed in a Zoom waiting room until the scheduled start of the session. Presenters may be admitted from the waiting room 30 minutes before the session begins in order to prepare.

Make sure that you can meet the system requirements. 

See Help with Zoom for more information.


Most technical difficulties boil down to the users’ bandwidth and familiarity with Zoom or other applications used during the presentation, like Powerpoint.

Here are some ways to anticipate these problems:

  • Make sure that you can meet the system requirements. See Help with Zoom for more information.
  • Compile your digital files that are necessary to your presentation on your computer where you can easily find them. We recommend also keeping a backup copy in Google Drive or another online storage option.
  • Avoid trying to stream audio or video from an online source during your presentation. Instead, play media files stored on your own device.
  • Share a copy of your files with a co-panelist, in case you encounter connectivity or other technical issues during your presentation.
  • Practice using your presentation software, including how to share your screen in Zoom. Be aware that you may need to change settings so that Zoom will share your audio as well as your screen. See Help with Zoom.
  • It is not required to pre-record your presentation, but some folks prefer doing the hard part in advance, so they can relax and enjoy the live session. Pre-recorded presentations can be prepared using PowerPoint or Zoom, and played using “Share Screen” from your device, like any other media file.

Chairing a Virtual or Hybrid Session

Note: There will be a Volunteer Zoom moderator assigned to each fully virtual or hybrid session. This person will be able to assist the chair with managing the virtual aspect of the session.

While many of the same rules apply to managing a virtual or hybrid session as to an in-person one, hosts and moderators of virtual or hybrid meetings also have certain technical responsibilities. Moreover, chairs of hybrid sessions must be aware of the needs of both remote and in-person presenters and the opportunities for interaction between them.

  • Communicate with all presenters ahead of time to determine how to use the time; if papers are scheduled for specific start times, plan to stick to the schedule. Be aware of each of your presenters’ technical needs.
  • Zoom has a number of tools through which attendees can communicate silently with each other publicly and privately, including text chat, participant list icons, and emoji reactions. Establish policies ahead of time for how you would like attendees to communicate during live discussion portions of the session. Inform all attendees of these procedures at the start of your session.
  • Be ready to step in when technical difficulties are disrupting your session. As Zoom host or co-host, you (or your moderator) have the ability to mute, unmute, and eject participants as needed.

We recommend you review our customary General Guidelines for Session Chairs as you consider the best ways to adapt the virtual platform or hybrid setting to your session’s specific needs.

AFS will provide some technical support for virtual and hybrid sessions as needed, but our capacity will be limited. We rely first and foremost on panel chairs to manage their session and support their presenters to the best of their ability. If you are chairing a virtual or hybrid session and do not feel comfortable with Zoom, please email us at [email protected] to let us know, and we will strategize together.

During Your Session

All panel participants should:
  • Follow the directions of your chair/moderator throughout the session.
  • If you are presenting remotely: 
    • Make sure your microphone is muted when you are not speaking to minimize background noise while others are speaking.
    • Turn your microphone on when it is your turn to speak.
  • Try not to speak over other attendees, both as a matter of courtesy and because computer microphones often cancel each other out when one speaker tries to talk over another.
  • Introduce yourself before speaking. Remember that not all other attendees will necessarily have access to video and may not recognize you from voice alone.