Moderation Script

How to ensure the smooth running of a virtual event?

The challenge

Virtual events require substantial planning and informed moderation in order to achieve the expected results. This holds even more true for large-scale events attended by a larger group of participants. The specific challenge in virtual events is that a variety of tools might be used, which requires the involvement of different co-moderators. The co-moderators are usually not at the same place and spontaneous communication is more difficult than in in-person meetings.


The solution

A moderation script defines and assigns roles and responsibilities among the facilitation team in order to make sure that the event unfolds according to the agenda and achieves its objectives within the originally foreseen time limits. A moderation script is especially important for the facilitation team of any virtual event. The facilitation team may include the project coordinator, project assistant, local staff, moderator, and external experts as speakers.

Areas of application:

All kinds of virtual events, such as steering committee meetings, online trainings, workshops, etc., and especially virtual events with a larger group of participants (>20 participants) such as online seminars and conferences.


The lead moderator together with the facilitation team prepares a script for the moderation of a virtual event. The moderation script mirrors all agenda points and other relevant information to structure the event, defines roles and responsibilities and keeps track of steps that need to be taken in order to achieve the objectives of the event and within the time limits.


The script may be prepared in a table format and may include the following items:


Agenda item
(and objective)

(and instructions for the facilitation team)

Responsible person

Platform, tool, material and comments


Under activities, the moderation script may include, for example, guiding questions to be asked during brainstorming sessions, indicate a person who needs to share their screen for a presentation, assign a person to monitor the chat, etc.


When developing the moderation script, consider the following:

  • The general rule of ”Form follows function” applies: First think of the objective of the activity within the event, then define how it should be implemented and by whom.
  • Do not overload a single person with too many tasks. Sharing tasks does not only create a nicer atmosphere in the event because it’s not always the same person talking, but also allows all moderators to take a break. Hosting online events, especially if they take several hours, can be quite exhausting and sometimes requires even more concentration than hosting face-to-face events.
  • Leave room for breaks. Allow participants to take a short break at least every 1.5 hours, or more often.
  • Plan time buffers (or even better: optional activities that you can leave out if you are running out of time) to compensate for delays due to technical issues. This holds especially true for consecutive interpretion. Anticipate such issues (and allow more time) whenever participants need to access or switch between tools, (e.g. if you use breakout rooms or external tools like a virtual whiteboard). This will almost always, and especially in the beginning, take up some minutes.
  • To minimize such time losses, invite participants to join a technical preparation session in advance of the actual online event. Getting familiar with the tools used will not only make participants more comfortable to use them, but also reduce possible frustration.
  • For your own orientation and also for accurate announcements to the audience, include the different time zones in the moderation script.


Draft moderation script should be prepared by the moderator (about one week prior to the event) and sent to the facilitation team for feedback. The moderator develops the final version and shares it with all team members, at least one day before the event. The development process is parallel to the agenda development process.

Virtual sessions are often shorter than in-person sessions, but may require more time to prepare the event, especially when new tools or concepts are used. For example, for a first iteration of a workshop, the same time for preparation as the duration of the workshop should be planned. For repeated implementations, preparation time will be less.


Tools and technical aspects

A moderation script can be done as a simple table in a Word document or an Excel sheet.

Other considerations

When preparing for a virtual event, the members of the facilitation team should make sure that the selected co-moderators have basic moderation skills. If necessary, they should be introduced to the basics and / or practice on a practical example beforehand (duration: approximately one hour).

The team should also agree on a communication channel for moderators/facilitators only, to be able to discuss spontaneous upcoming questions. A good tool for that is a (text) chat room. Furthermore, the facilitation team should collect all telephone numbers for a second channel of communication during the event. Include the numbers in the moderation script.

If the facilitation team or one of its members are using a new tool, plan time for a test run for certain activities foreseen by the script. The team should assign a backup person for important tasks, e.g. a video to be shared should be available on two computers.


Christina Foerg-Wimmer
Alexis Valqui
Suzana Lange

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