I am a Webinar Host in Zoom. What do I need to do? How do I prepare the Webinar settings? How do I play back videos as simulive?

Modified on Mon, 27 Mar, 2023 at 1:39 PM

Think of a Host like a room monitor / staff at a physical conference. You are responsible for getting the speakers ready backstage and when to open the doors to the room. When the session is over, the doors close so the room is ready for the next session. 

Webinars must be started by a host. You should have received the login details and start/end times of the webinar you are scheduled to host. Use the event app or planner to confirm the list of speakers. 

If you are the host for a keynote or larger webinar, review this virtual Keynote Intro article to create a professional entrance experience. To make sessions more fun and engaging, check with your organizer to add ScanHunt virtual event gamification. Or share this virtual events bingo card with the attendees via chat while they wait for the session to start.

1. Update the Zoom App

Ensure you have the latest version of Zoom installed. On your computer where you'll be hosting the webinar, go to https://zoom.us/test and follow the steps to join a test session via the app. Update the app if prompted.

2. Open Practice Session

If there is no other session before yours on the same Zoom license (same Zoom login), you can start the Webinar early to open up the practice session for panelists (speakers). This allows you and speakers to set up and get ready without any participants seeing or hearing you. We recommend to start at least 15 and if possible, 30 min, before the official session start time.

Learn more

The Webinar is automatically set up already to start in this practice mode. 

  1. Log into https://Zoom.us with the credentials provided to you by the organizer
  2. On the left, navigate to PERSONAL > Webinars > find the webinar you are hosting > click the Start button. If you receive a message that this host is still running another webinar, please wait or check with the organizer if another host is going over their allotted time.

Cloud Recording - Stop it now if it has already started

If the recording has automatically started already, press the STOP button immediately and avoid recording the practice session. Then hit the recording button just before you start broadcasting.

3. Rename Yourself 

The name displayed in the participant list may be a generic name associated with the Zoom login you used. In order for attendees to know who to contact for support issues, rename yourself in the session: 

  1. Click the Participant list
  2. Click your name and rename yourself to "Session Support" or a similar name

4. Adjust Settings

Are you planning to use Chat? or Q&A? Double check the settings to make sure they meet your needs. 

For example, in large webinars, some hosts turn chat off completely and only use Q&A. Or they set chat to only chat with hosts. You can also control who receives questions submitted via the Q&A. If you have a session moderator, maybe all questions should go to the moderator? 

Is there going to be a poll? You can still prepare the questions now.

If you have a team member assist you or a moderator that you'd like to make co-host, you can easily assign roles using the Participant panel.

5. Help Speakers get Ready

All your speakers have received a personal link to join as "Panelist". Do the following A/V check with each of your panelists:

  1. Test if they can hear you
  2. Ask them to turn ON their mic and confirm that you can hear them. 
  3. Ask them to turn ON their webcam.
  4. Double check that the name is correct - if not, you can rename the panelist in the participant list (this can happen if the originally invited speaker cannot join and forwarded their panelist email with the special personalized link to another speaker to take their place. When the backup speaker clicks that link, Zoom applies the name of the original speaker)
  5. Ask panelists to 
    1. set their slides into presentation mode
    2. share their screen
    3. confirm you can see their screen share
    4. stop sharing their screen
  6. Ask all panelists to MUTE themselves (turn mic OFF)
  7. Review the session timeline with all panelists and remind them to stick to their time. Explain to the speakers how you will communicate their time is running out and the next speaker must be introduced. 
  8. Double check that the moderator is going to remind everyone that the webinar is being recorded. 

6. If necessary: Videos for Simulive Sessions

If the organizer is running a simulive webinar, the speakers may join the webinar in person but only for Q&A or a live discussion. Their actual presentation is pre-recorded and you are asked to play back the video file of their recording. 

  1. Have a folder on your computer with all the recordings ready to play
  2. Before the session, test each video so you know that it will actually play from your computer
  3. Practice how to play back a video in full screen mode on your computer
  4. Practice how to use Control + Tab on Windows or Command + Tab on Mac on the keyboard to cycle through open apps, so that you can easily toggle between Zoom and the Video you have ready to play. 
  5. Open the video file in the player and pause it (have this ready before the session to save time)
  6. Set the video playback to full screen. In Quicktime, you can use the menu View > Enter Full Screen or the keyboard shortcut Command + Control + F
  7. When you are ready to play back a presentation video, follow these steps exactly: 
    1. In Zoom > click Share Screen > select the application that has your video ready to play
    2. On the bottom left, check Share Computer Sound (If you forget that toggle, the audience will not hear the audio from the video)
      1. Note: do not use the option to Optimize the video as it will result in blurryness.
    3. Click Share
    4. Tip: Avoid moving your mouse - it's visible for attendees
    5. Use the keyboard shortcut Control + Tab on Windows or Command + Tab on Mac and hit the space bar (or whatever other shortcut in your video playback tool to start playing the video)
    6. When the video is over, use Control + Tab on Windows or Command + Tab on Mac to toggle back to Zoom > stop the screen sharing
    7. Close that video player and prepare the next video if you need to show another - start again on step 1

If possible, use a dual monitor setup where Zoom is on your main monitor and the video on your secondary monitor. Then for screen share, share your second monitor. This allows you to use Control + Tab on Windows or Command + Tab on Mac to switch to Zoom on your main monitor and continue using the chat while the shared video is playing back on your second monitor. 

You can also keyboard shortcuts for Zoom. Go to https://zoom.us/test to open your zoom app. On the top left, click zoom.us and select Preferences > choose Keyboard Shortcuts and you can learn which shortcut starts and stops screen sharing (On Mac Command + Shift + S). This will make you look very professional and avoids attendees seeing your mouse moving around on your screen. Practice the video playback before the webinar. 

List of Zoom Shortcuts for Mac and Windows

7. Determine a Co-Host

It is helpful to make another participant or a panelist a co-host. In case your internet connection drops, the Zoom app or your computer crashes, then the designated co-host automatically becomes host and the session continues. If no co-host was designated, Zoom randomly designates another person as the host until you re-join.

You can give co-host rights to any of the panelist by clicking on their name and using the available menu. 

8. Prepare for Broadcast 3-5min Before Session Start

  1. Set the spotlight to the session chair who should be muted.
    Setting the spotlight creates a better experience in the native apps if the integrated Zoom SDK is being used. A native app user joining the webinar will then see the spotlighted speaker. If no spotlight is set, a native app user will see a large screen that shows a button Tap to Speak and must swipe right to see the speaker video. This may be confusing for non-technical users or may require the host to give additional instructions how to get to the video screen via swiping. 
  2. Are you going to be showing looping sponsor slides or a looping video with audio? Be ready to start those. If you have looping slides, set them into presentation mode in full screen now. 
  3. Ensure all speakers are muted 
  4. Let speakers know that 
    1. attendees are about to join - they will be able to see them
    2. recording will start and anything they do from now on will be recorded in the speaker video
  5. Mute yourself and turn your webcam OFF
  6. Start screen sharing
    1. Attention: if your looping slides contain audio, ensure to click the "computer audio" in the screen share dialog before selecting the app or window you are planning to share
  7. Press the Broadcast button - you are now live!
  8. Double check if the recording has automatically started. You should see a cloud recording symbol in the top left corner. If not, start the recording. 
  9. During the Webinar, keep spotlighting the speakers. Learn more here. Using the Zoom spotlight feature impacts the cloud recording, so ensure you have familiarized yourself with this feature in advance.

9. Assist Users with Technical Issues

You may have attendees who are unfamiliar with video conferencing tools and are for example unsure how to access the audio portion or how to dial in if the audio is not working on their device or computer. Each session in the EventPilot planner and app also has a discussion chat that is separate from Zoom. Double check there for users posting technical issues if they cannot join the Zoom event. 

Here are some helpful links to the Zoom knowledge base: 

Zoom Virtual Session Participant Guide

Using Q&A as the Host

Most common problems and how to fix them

10. End the Webinar

If the webinar was set up via EventPilot, it will end automatically a few minutes after the session's scheduled end time. If you don't want your speakers to get cut off, work with your moderator to keep speakers on time and ensure that the session ends on time. Participants will appreciate this too. If the Webinar was set up outside of EventPilot and does not end automatically, make sure you end it for all participants (don't just leave the meeting). End on time as another host may require the license to start their practice session.