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Guidelines for Chairs and Moderators

Chairs should play an active role in encouraging discussion. A three- to five-minute introduction to the session provides an opportunity to offer context. What is at stake? Why will this be an interesting conversation? It’s useful to prepare a few questions that will stimulate conversation among the panelists.

Communicate with participants in advance, requesting any information you need to introduce them effectively, including their personal pronouns and pronunciation of their name. Remind them to review the Virtual AHA Policies, including the Code of Professional Conduct.

Be mindful of the time. Inform participants well in advance how long their presentations should take; be sure to leave ample time for discussion.

Before the webinar begins, advise participants that the conversation will be recorded. Ask participants if any of them would prefer that the event not be live tweeted. Remind participants to mute themselves when not speaking.

Inform the audience at the beginning of the webinar that the webinar is being recorded. Notify them if you are requesting that the session not be live tweeted.

Registrants in most webinars will participate via the Q&A feature. Moderators should select questions to read aloud for speakers to answer. Be sure to call on a diverse group of questioners (to the best of your ability given the format).

Be prepared to challenge offensive or discriminatory comments, making sure to distinguish between appropriate controversy and offense, and work to defuse controversy that is veering into what might be considered offensive. This is difficult terrain; just do your best. For example, a chair might say, “Let’s talk about that idea, how do the other panelists feel about that?” Or even, “Is that the language you want to use?” If someone talks over a fellow panelist (which is all too easy on Zoom) the chair might say, “I think [name] wanted to make a point.” If you think that a participant has violated the AHA’s code of conduct, please notify as soon as possible after the session (or even during, if that’s practicable).

Do not allow the discussion to continue beyond the webinar’s announced end time. Be sure to consult with participants in advance about the best way to indicate when a speaker’s time is nearly up. For example, you might direct message the speaker using Zoom’s chat feature.