Our WorkAnnual MeetingsInformation for Presenters

Managing a Virtual or a Hybrid Session

Chairs have an important role to play in maintaining a civil and professional space for all participants. Please review the Annual Meeting Policies for important guidance about appropriate behavior and, under “social media,” consent and professional tone. 

General Guidelines for Session Chairs provides tips for a successful session in any setting; these instructions present some overlap, customized to the virtual or hybrid session setting.


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. For fully virtual (Oct. 11-12) and hybrid (Nov. 1-4) sessions, AFS will provide limited support for Zoom moderation and technical support, but we will rely on you as panel chair to take responsibility for considering the virtual audience and managing the flow of the session. If you feel that you require additional assistance, please let us know as soon as possible at [email protected].

We have compiled instructions for using Zoom and participating in a virtual or hybrid session. Please familiarize yourself with these items prior to your sessions, so you can advise panelists and participants who need help:

General Information

Concurrent virtual and hybrid sessions will use Zoom meetings (not webinars) that are launched by the click of a button directly from the session details on the conference platform. We may use webinars for events, but that is the exception, rather than the norm.

Anyone can see the program on the conference hub, but only registered attendees can join virtual and hybrid sessions, access livestreams and recordings, or see presenters’ contact information. You can see the program now, though some features are still under construction. And, as in every year, late change requests are still coming in, so details may change in the days before the meeting.

  1. AFS sent an email to registered attendees inviting them to set up their access to the conference hub on October 3. Those who register after that date will receive an invitation within 1-2 business days of registering. New registrations during the weeks of the virtual and in-person portions of the conference may be delayed by 3-5 business days.
  2. Any time you visit the conference hub, look for the Log In button, and make sure you are logged in for access to the protected content; the platform may remember you as long as you continue to use the same computer and browser.  Contact [email protected] if you have any trouble.
  3. View your session in the Schedule. On the session details page, when your session start time draws near, you’ll find a button to join the meeting. If you do not see this button near your start time, check to make sure you have logged in.

Starting a Live Virtual Session

Note: There will be a Volunteer Zoom moderator assigned to each virtual and hybrid session. This person will be able to start the session for you and assist with the following steps. 

  1. 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. Instruct your panelists to come early, too, and keep an eye on the waiting room so that you can let them in when they arrive.
  2. You can assign co-hosting privileges; we recommend that you do this for your panelists and anyone else you designate to assist you.
  3. Try playing AV files before attendees arrive. Refer to Help with Zoom in advance concerning how to share media using Share Screen. If you have difficulties that you can’t resolve on your own, ask your Zoom moderator to contact the Tech Lead, preferably before the session begins.
  4. You or a co-host will need to admit the attendees when the session is scheduled to begin.
  5. At the start of the session, confirm that the session is recording, unless your panelists have specifically requested that no recording be made. If an individual panelist prefers not to be recorded, but the others have no objection, you can turn off the recording for just that presentation, but please announce what you are doing as you do it, so later viewers can understand what’s happening.
  6. Chairs should convey the information in the script below at the start of the session.

Managing the Session

Note: The Volunteer Zoom moderator assigned to your session will be able to assist with managing the session. 

  • Managing a session entails:
    • muting participants, 
    • letting people into the session after the session begins, 
    • monitoring the chat for any questions or technical issues that arise, 
    • contacting your Zoom moderator and Tech Lead if further help is needed, and 
    • keeping track of the time so that the session ends when it is supposed to. 
  • Note that the Zoom sessions will not end automatically, so you will be responsible for ending the session based on the scheduled end time.

Inappropriate Behavior

If you encounter inappropriate behavior:

In cases where the behavior is not immediately disruptive, 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 or remove them. 

Don’t hesitate to use the tools at your disposal, including removing them from the session when a warning doesn’t work, or when the behavior is so inappropriate that it requires immediate intervention.

Zoom Bombing

Help us protect attendees from deliberately disruptive behavior, or “Zoom bombing.”

We have structural protections in place:

  • Our Zoom sessions will be accessed by the click of a button that only signed-in, registered attendees can see, and even registrants will not see the Zoom link itself.
  • If you have the Zoom meeting link for some reason, we ask that you do not share it in unsecured channels.
  • All meeting Zoom sessions will have a waiting room, and co-hosts will have the ability to eject participants from the session.

The first, best line of defense is to use the hosting tools to eject disruptors, but the nuclear option is to end the session. If you end the session for any reason, you will not be able to reconnect immediately. In this case, you can use our helpline (see the Welcome page) to request assistance in creating a new “join session” link, but you should be prepared to allow us some time to do so.