Facilitation of large events (webinars and conferences)

There are lots of tools you can use to host online conferences and events. Here are some of the most popular, engaging and easy to use tools plus practical ‘how to details’ recommended by SCU colleagues to facilitate online events.

Webinars via Zoom

The Zoom tool has two types of rooms: Zoom webinar room and Zoom meeting room with different functions to manage these different types of events. The Zoom webinar room can connect up to 500 participants to create a real-time, interactive webinar event. The Zoom meeting room can connect over 100 participants. Sessions can be recorded. Make sure the host schedules the meeting to record the session, or the host can provide a co-host permission to record.

For an event that is delivered both face-to-face and online, if you need more than one online Zoom space at the same time, ask different staff members to create separate online meeting room links.

Eventbrite can manage the webinar registrations.

Webinars via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Any number of Collaborate Ultra sessions can be created inside a Blackboard site. These can be set up at different times or concurrently. Each session can cater for up to 500 participants. Sessions can be recorded and recordings are automatically made available within the site, and can also be downloaded in mp4 format.

Guest links can be provided to participants who do not have access to the SCU network.

Preparing online participants

Before participants join the online conference space, ask them to keep these details in mind:

  • Ensure your microphone is muted and your camera is turned off to allow you to join in on the event successfully - this will reduce feedback noise.
  • Please comment and ask questions via the chat space. For moderated sessions, your questions may be addressed at specific times, for example after each presentation. To assist audio clarity, the SCU Audio Visual team recommends using one-way traffic to ask questions via the Zoom chat space and not via your microphone and camera unless requested.

Facilitating online discussions

The following techniques were used by online facilitators at the 2020 Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Symposium (delivered online), and the 2019 Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Symposium (delivered both face-to-face and online). Amend these points to suit your webinar tool and delivery:

  • Introduce yourself in the online chat space: At the beginning of the session, post a welcome to the participants, introducing yourself as the online facilitator for that session. The session chair will also introduce you as the online facilitator to the participant group.
  • Encourage contributions: Invite participants to respond to the presenter’s questions or discussion prompts in the chat space. Presenters should pause for a minute when seeking answers to questions during an online presentation. Question time may occur near the end of the presentation.
  • Indicate when online contributions are available: When it is an appropriate time in the presentation (e.g. the presenter is asking for feedback or asking a question) indicate to the presenter that you have contributions to share. If it is an online event, you can send the session chair a private chat message.
  • General ‘backchannel’ chat: Online participants may post comments and discuss issues as an online group. You are not expected to share all of this ‘backchannel’ conversation with the wider group. However, you may like to share some key comments or emerging themes, when there is an opportunity presented by the session presenter or chair. Feel free to become part of the ‘backchannel’ chat as this is a natural part of facilitating online.

Incorporating virtual presentations and videos

Presentations: Consider virtual lightning talks (5-minute flash video presentations) or virtual posters with facilitation of peer-to-peer discussion.

Pecha Kucha: For several very short presentations combined together, consider the Pecha Kucha style presentation (Pecha Kucha is an example of a virtual lightning talk). Consider adapting this style, for example at the 2019 Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Symposium, eight presenters had two minutes each to present up to six slides at 20 seconds per slide.

Video resources: Link to or embed short YouTube videos to reinforce learning.

Hosting online conferences

The Copernicus Alliance European Network on Higher Education for Sustainable Development guidelines include details on preparation, hosting and evaluating virtual meetings or conferences.

The Hosting an online conference PDF resource by Associate Professor Celeste Lawson from CQUniversity includes details to consider and organise before, during and post a conference.

Other online tools, interaction ideas and resources


Open Broadcaster Software is a free, open source software for video recording and live streaming. This tool is not supported by SCU Technology Services.


Use this tool to encourage participant contributions before, during and post an event. A Twitter feed was established prior to the 2019 Symposium which many staff engaged with. View the Twitter guide if you’re new to this tool. You can also create and Tweet live video from the Twitter app for participants to join your video, visit Go live on Twitter.

Video resources

Videos platforms like Twitch, originally built for gaming, also have live channels, talk shows, podcasts, special events etc. Users watch or broadcast live streaming or pre-recorded video.

Facebook Live for Facebook accounts

To encourage online participation and communal singing the Pub Choir, a communal singing group, organised an online competition to showcase singing from home at Couch Choir!


The Social Distancing Festival website is a space for celebrating artists to upload video clips from work that has been cancelled, delayed or disrupted. It includes both a live-stream event page and uploaded clips from rehearsals, webcam scenes, workshop recordings etc.


Thanks to Associate Professor Adele Wessell and contributions from colleagues who recommended sources for this resource.


Arivananthan, M. (2015). Unicef Knowledge Exchange Toolbox - Lightning Talks. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.unicef.org/knowledge-exchange/files/Lightning_Talks_production.pdf

Beykpour, S. (2016, December 14). Go Live on Twitter! [Blog post]. https://blog.twitter.com/en_us/a/2016/go-live-on-twitter.html

Diethart, M., Zimmermann, A. B. & Mula, I. (2020). Guidelines for Virtual Conferencing - inspired by the COPERNICUS Alliance Online Conference 2019. Bern, Switzerland: CDE and COPERNICUS Alliance. doi: 10.7892/boris.139254

Eventbrite. (2020). Eventbrite Online Events. https://www.eventbrite.com.au/d/online/events/

Green, N. (n.d.). The Social Distancing Festival. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.socialdistancingfestival.com/

Lawson, C. (2019). Hosting an Online Conference. CQUniversity Australia. https://www.caullt.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Lawson_Roy-Hosting-online-conference.pdf

Open Broadcaster Software. (2012-2020). OBS Studio. https://obsproject.com/

Pub Choir. (2020, March 17). Couch Choir! in Facebook [Event page]. Retrieved March 20, 2020, from https://www.facebook.com/events/2501350546785658/

Raphael, A. (n.d.). Visual Storytelling: Designing an Effective Poster. Oral Communication Program. Standford University. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://shc.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Designing%20your%20Poster%20-%20Tips%20on%20Visual%20Storytelling.pdf

Southern Cross University. (n.d.). Copyright: Using DVDs, YouTube and Videos in your teaching. https://www.scu.edu.au/copyright/for-staff/using-dvds-youtube-and-videos/

Southern Cross University. (n.d.). Zoom: Technology Services. https://spark.scu.edu.au/kb/ts/teaching-meeting-technology-and-spaces/zoom

Twitch. (n.d.). TwitchTV. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.twitch.tv/

Twitter Inc. (2022). Twitter Getting Started Guide: Getting started with Twitter. Retrieved January 17, 2022, from https://help.twitter.com/en/resources/twitter-guide

Masterclass (2021, September 12). How PechaKucha Works: Tips for PechaKucha Presentations. Retrieved 9th January 2024, https://www.masterclass.com/articles/pechakucha-explained

(Please note - it's better to refer to the Online version rather than export, as it's always up to date)