Doing Being the Moderator: Use of “Respondent Selection” During Webinar Q&As

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Allie Hope King


During an online webinar, a question and answer (Q&A) segment is a valuable time during which audience members can petition an institution’s hosting representatives to clarify, expand upon, or otherwise assist with questions or issues that remain after a presentation has been made. As would be the case in any information-dissemination event, it is presumably important to all parties involved that these questions are handled in a satisfactory manner. The webinars in the present study are audio-only (i.e., video conferencing is not used), and audience members are limited to using a “chat” feature in order to pose questions (i.e., a call-in feature is not used). Within this particular dynamic, the moderator takes on a complex third-party role. On the one hand, she must act as the “voice” of the audience members, reading their written questions aloud for all to hear and serving as an interactional bridge between the other two parties; on the other hand, the moderator is also responsible for ensuring that the interaction runs smoothly and efficiently, and that all questions are addressed in a timely manner. 

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