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Guide for Participant-Produced Webinars

We encourage participants in sessions accepted for the planned 2021 annual meeting to produce virtual sessions on their own and publicize them through Virtual AHA. Participant-produced sessions may be prerecorded or live. The following guide offers considerations for participants planning self-produced sessions.

The AHA will provide advice and support for participant-produced sessions, within certain staff and technology constraints. Please let us know how we might be helpful as you plan your session.

Everyone participating in any Virtual AHA event is expected to abide by the Code of Professional Conduct and other Virtual AHA policies. Participants should also review the Virtual AHA Etiquette guide.

Written Remarks

Regardless of whether you choose to hold your session in a virtual format, anyone who was expecting to deliver a prepared presentation at the annual meeting has the option to post formal papers or other written remarks on the Virtual AHA website and app. Standalone remarks—those that will not become part of a virtual session—should be submitted by December 1.

Participants are welcome to use their posted remarks as the focus of a discussion on the AHA Communities forum (, a Twitter thread, or other social media. Panelists could also consider using precirculated papers posted on the app as the basis of discussion at the session meeting or webinar.

PDFs of written remarks should be submitted using the link provided by AHA staff and in the format listed on the submission page. Please email if you need the link. PDFs of written remarks will be posted on the Virtual AHA website and app, which will be publicly accessible until fall 2021. 

Formats for Virtual Sessions

When planning a virtual session, it is important to think about the format or structure that best suits you and your fellow panelists—how many speakers you have, what kind of engagement you are looking for from attendees, and what technology you have at your disposal. Formats can range from precirculating written remarks and holding a live Q&A session on social media to recording a podcast or webinar.

When access is available, we strongly encourage participants to work with their institution’s IT department to explore session format possibilities. Sessions can take on a variety of formats, and speaking with someone who is familiar with the available platforms will be your best source of advice.

Before settling on a format for your session, consider the capabilities of the videoconferencing system you will be using.

Webinar technology allows the host to broadcast the panelists and allows attendees to comment using the Q&A function, without an intermediary step for limiting their access. If you do not have webinar capability, you might consider providing an email address or form for attendees to request the link.

Keep in mind that even if webinar software is not available, meeting platforms may still be able to livestream to Facebook or YouTube, effectively turning meetings into a webinar with a comment section. For example, a meeting with only the panelists invited can be broadcast to Facebook where viewers can comment on the video. While this adds an extra step, it allows for a more controlled meeting.

Permissions and Security

Whatever format or platform you use, you will need to decide how audience members will participate and how much access they will have. Most platforms give the host the ability to limit participant permissions to share video, unmute themselves, send chats, and more.

It is important to manage permissions before and during a virtual session to prevent any accidental or intentional disruptions (e.g. “Zoom bombers”). To prevent this from happening, do not provide your login, host link, or meeting code to session attendees.

There are many resources online for learning more about best practices for videoconferencing security, including these federal best practices; you may also want to consult your IT department for advice.

Most major teleconferencing platform have instructions on how to secure your meeting. Some popular options across many platforms are using passcodes, waiting rooms, muting participants upon entry, and limiting screen sharing permissions to only the host.

Video Session Types and Recommended Set Ups

Below is a summary of three potential setups for webinars and meetings.



One speaker at a time

A single presenter speaks, demonstrates, and answers questions from the audience. This could take the form of a meeting, webinar, or prerecorded video followed by a short meeting for discussion.

Moderated roundtable

Multiple panelists on the line at the same time, with a moderator facilitating the discussion. A roundtable would work best as a webinar to allow for real-time questions. It could also be a meeting with limited permissions, such as muting participants and asking them to submit questions via chat, or a recorded discussion with previously solicited questions.

Workshop or seminar

Audience members participate fully via instructor-led exercises and facilitated conversations. A regular meeting works well and does not require webinar capabilities. If you take this approach, we recommend requiring participants to sign up in advance to receive the link. This format is best for small-group discussions. All participants can have their camera and microphone enabled.

Livestreaming Options

If you are using Facebook Live or YouTube to stream the session, be sure to set that up before the webinar begins. Livestreams use the stream keys to find the audio and video you want to broadcast on the selected platform. These are provided for your specific account, which requires you to look at your account settings or contact the administrator who can.

During the Session

Ask the host/chair and panelists to join the meeting about 15 minutes prior to the session in order to test tech equipment, sound, WiFi, etc. You may want to send panelists our best practices for participating in a webinar. Be sure to begin recording the webinar before the introductions begin and make sure it is capturing video in the format that you would like. For example, it may show all panelists all the time, or only the person speaking. Inform participants of the webinar format and that it is being recorded.

When the webinar begins, remind attendees and participants that the meeting is being recorded and how it will be used, for example if you will be submitting the recording to be posted on the AHA YouTube channel. Also remind them that everyone must adhere to the Virtual AHA Policies and Etiquette.

If you are taking questions, chairs should collect questions through the chat and relay them to the panelists verbally when they are ready to take questions. Moderators should use the name of the person who asked the question, if known, and summarize or read questions to the presenters. It is important not to give an answer without first reading out the question. We strongly advise against having attendees turn on their video/audio to ask questions as this usually slows down the event and causes confusion as to who is muted/unmuted.

See our guidelines for webinar chairs and moderators for additional tips about moderating a discussion.

Prerecorded Sessions

Panelists can also prerecord their presentations, be it one at a time or during a single meeting, and submit them together to be posted on the AHA’s YouTube channel. This recording can be coupled to an asynchronous commentary or Q&A thread via the AHA Communities forum, Twitter, or other media platform.

If each panelist is recording a separate video, they should begin with a brief introduction, including name, institution, and any other relevant information. Panelists can share a PowerPoint or document that they would like to use as a visual aid. AHA staff can help with minor edits and add a video title card for the session, including participant names.

Promoting Your Session

Send the viewing/registration link to attendees. If you would like it marketed widely by the AHA, use the submission link to provide information to be posted on the Virtual AHA calendar. Circulate any materials participants should review prior to the session. Please contact if you need us to resend the link.

The AHA will list all sessions on our Virtual AHA calendar and our app. We will promote the calendar, app, and YouTube recordings through social media.

Participants are encouraged to use the #VirtualAHA hashtag to connect with fellow panelists and attendees, as well as to promote their sessions to their own network.