Zoom Event Production: Event Coordinator's Guide

This document is an overview of tips, tricks and best practices for producing your in-person event with Zoom and is designed for the non-technical event coordinator.


Webinar or Meeting

Deciding on which type of Zoom license to use should be one of your first decisions. There are a couple of factors that if required or desired, would necessitate the use of a webinar license.

  • You want to have more than 1000 attendees in the Zoom event
  • You want to prevent people from ever turning on their camera
  • You want to use the Q&A feature

On the other hand, if you want to use breakout rooms, then you have to use a meeting license.

In general, webinars are better for events where you want to have limited attendee participation – where you are presenting to an audience and they will not be interacting. While meetings can limit attendee participation almost as good as a webinar, they are really designed for attendees to interact with each other and the hosts.

Webinar and Large Meeting Licenses

Duke OIT has at its disposal several large meeting (500, 1000) and Webinar Licenses (100, 1000) available for loan to schools and departments for occasional use. For more information on how to obtain a license and its availability, email help@duke.edu and request your ticket be assigned to Duke PACE. Your technical lead (whomever is the technical host of the event) should have the license associated with their account to make sure they are able to administer the event.

Webinar and Large Meeting Production Assistance

For groups that need assistance producing large meetings or webinars, Duke University Center Activities & Events can be contacted (techsvcs@duke.edu).


You will need to determine the desired level of security and what is technically available for your event.

  • Password – at a minimum, we recommend that all meetings use a unique meeting ID (not someone’s personal meeting room) and have a password. That password will be encrypted in the URL you share with your attendees but it prevents someone from just guessing your Meeting ID and “Zoom Bombing”
  • NetID Only – this will limit attendees to only those with a Duke associated Zoom license. For a webinar, you can invite panelists that do not have a Duke NetID but you can’t do this in a meeting.
  • Registration – This requires someone to pre-register. If you use Manual registration, the host can approve every attendee so no one will be admitted unless they are registered
  • Limit Participation Of Attendees: On both meetings and webinars, you can prevent attendees from unmuting, turning on their video or sharing their screen. This helps prevent someone from sharing content or otherwise interrupting your meeting.


Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms are only available in a meeting license. While this is a cool technology, you should consider the objective you’d like to achieve by using a breakout room before making the decision to use a meeting license. Our experience has shown, once a breakout room grows to more than 7-10 people, they become less effective as people with stronger personalities will tend to dominate the conversation (similarly to how people would behave if they were placed into a physical separate room at a meeting). That said, we’ve had very favorable responses for the use of breakout rooms with large numbers of people (around 50), where the participants were given very specific instructions of what to do when they were placed randomly into a breakout room. For example, using it as a way for people just to say hello and introduce themselves works well with a large group, however having a specific conversation around a topic may not be as effective as all the people may not feel like they can participate.


If it’s possible, having a moderator in each breakout room will definitely help move conversations along.


Breakout rooms can be assigned per lists of people, however, this requires each pre-assigned attendee to have authenticated into Dukes Zoom account. If you require NetID authentication using the person's netID@duke.edu email address, that will make sure that the system will recognize each person. Depending on how many people are at your event, it may only be possible to randomly assign people to rooms.

If you manually assign breakout rooms and want to have people go back to the same breakout room within the same meeting, you can just reopen the rooms to keep the assignments. Once the meeting ends, those assignments are lost.

Even if you don't use pre-assigned attendees, the host can edit the scheduled meeting and create the list of breakout room names ahead of the live meeting. The participants can then either be manually assigned to the breakout rooms, automatically assigned or participants can self-assign themselves during the live meeting.

Hosts and Co-hosts have the same breakout room controls, such as starting or ending breakout rooms, assigning participants and they also have the option to assign a participant back to the main session, rather than ending all breakout sessions.

Role Definition

As with any event, there are roles that need to be established for certain participants in your meeting. It’s important to make sure everyone knows how to execute their role both practically and technically. Depending of the size and scope of your event, one person may do multiple roles. The Zoom assignment is listed in parenthesis.  It should be noted that, you cannot schedule someone to be a co-host unless they have an account on Duke's instance of Zoom. Others will need to be “promoted” during the meeting.

  • Technical Host (Host) – There is only one host per meeting/webinar. This is generally the person that creates the meeting or webinar and is more technical in nature than the actual “host” of the event.  They have the ability to “promote” people to co-hosts (meetings) or panelists (webinars)
  • Production Host(s) (Co-Host:Meeting & Co-Host/Panelist:Webinar) – this is the on camera host of the event and will handle the open and close of the event as well as the introduction of segments in the event. There can be multiple production hosts
  • Moderator (Co-Host:Meeting & Co-Host/Panelist:Webinar) – this person is responsible keeping the production on time by communicating with the host(s) as well as selecting questions from the chat or Q&A to the through “back channel” communication (which will be discussed later in this document)
  • Presenter (Co-Host:Meeting & Co-Host/Panelist:Webinar) – these are people that will be presenting either through audio and video and/or screen sharing for your event.
  • Security (Co-Host: Meeting & Co-Host/Panelist:Webinar): For some types of events, it is important to have someone monitoring the video and chat to make sure no one is posting inappropriate content and if they are, remove them from the meeting
  • Technical Support: (Co-Host: Meeting & Co-Host/Panelist:Webinar) – this is a contact that technical questions from attendees or others can be directed
  • Captioner: (Assign To Make Closed Caption) – if your event will be live captioned, you will need to assign that person to make closed captions once they join your event by hovering over their name and selecting it in the “More” menu


Invitations (Webinar Only)

Your technical producer will create two shared documents: one with individualized URLs for each panelist (webinar only) and one for attendees. Panelists should only be given their unique URL, not the attendee URL


Pre-Recorded Content

The success of playing back videos through screen share is highly dependent on the network speed of the person sharing the content. Once we are back on campus, this should not be an issue, but if you are hosting the event from home, we recommend using a wired ethernet connection for the person doing the video sharing. OIT set up a remote controlled computer on the Duke campus which served very well in this capacity. Note, playing back media directly from the host computer is the only way to guarantee great results. Re-streaming media will work, but not to a high level of quality.

Examples of pre-recorded content you might want to consider producing for your event:

  • Welcome Screen – this video produced with a music background will allow attendees to join the meeting before the start time and will be able to test their audio reception. We’ve included a “countdown” timer to these videos, usually 15 minutes, to help everyone see when the event will begin. This video can also be used to show the agenda for the day, or provide information to attendees (like if you will be using break out rooms or if you want them to keep their microphones muted, etc)
  • Breaks – Having a “countdown video” for breaks also helps attendees know how long they have before the event starts again and provides an opportunity to communicate to the attendees, maybe sponsor thank yous, etc
  • Hard To Schedule Presenters – if you have a high profile presenter who doesn’t have time to attend your event in person, they can pre-record comments that can be played during your event

Pre-Production & Practice

For any events that have multiple speakers or a mix of pre-recorded and live segments, creating an agenda (like the sample attached) will help find problems before production day. Setting up as many run throughs as possible with all active members of the production team will also help ensure your live event goes well.

An important part of the agenda is the designation of “Live” vs. “Recorded” content. This uses a pivot table on another tab to help you create a list of recorded media that you’ll need for the event. This is very useful to be sure you have everything before the day of show.


Pre-Show Content

If you are using a waiting room in a meeting, or are in practice mode before starting your event in a webinar, having pre-recorded content or at least a slide for a minimum of 10 minutes, 15 minutes for events over 200 attendees will give time for all of your attendees to get into the space. It is not automatic when opening the waiting room or leaving practice mode. So if your event is supposed to start at 2PM and you have 100 people, mute everyones mics and shut everyones cameras at 1:50PM and show a slide or play a video and open your event, then start your meeting at 2PM. Think of it like opening the meeting room/event hall for an in-person meeting.

Back Channel Communications

It’s important to set up a method for all the production people to speak during your event. Using the Zoom chat does not work well because all the chatting appears in one Window. We have had great success setting up a Team chat in Microsoft Teams, which also supports non-Duke users.


Presenters will always be the wild card as sometimes they cannot make pre-production run throughs and so you may not be able to check things like the quality of their internet connection, their lighting and their audio quality. Be prepared during the event if they start having connectivity issues to first try turning off their video. This make it easier on their connection. There are tips for them in the attached “Guide to Presenting” as well.



Zoom provides two different ways to record your event. We recommend a dedicated computer to do local recording if you plan to edit the event later. Cloud recording makes it easier to immediately publish your event but it will have to be downloaded before edits could be made. The person that initiates the cloud recording can not also record locally. That must be done by a different person that the host or co-host allows to record.

While cloud recording can be configured in your personal Zoom settings to record separate files for active speaker view, gallery view and shared screen – local recording will allow generate active speaker view, with a thumbnail of the active speaker overlayed on a shared screen.

It’s important to remember that chats are saved with the recording so if you want to save the public chats (private chats are not saved), you must record your event.


Zoom offers direct integration with Facebook Live and YouTube. If you have a large number of attendees that only wish to watch the event but not participate, this is an easy way to reach them. The URL can be pre-created and can be made public or “unlisted” which means people searching on YouTube will not be able to find the event – they will need the URL


Live captioning is highly recommended and will be required if your event will be publicly streaming or if any of your attendee’s request accommodations. Please refer to the Web Accessibility guide, Inclusive online events and activities, for detailed steps to follow when running an event to ensure it's inclusive and accessible to a wide range of users. You can also contact Duke’s Office of Disability Services for more information on captioning. A professional can take a week or more to arrange so it’s important to decide before your meeting if you will be captioning. Including a line such as, “If you require closed captions to access the material in our event, please let us know by xx date by emailing…” Or include it on your form.

Zoom provides automated captions and can be enabled in your Zoom settings. 

If you will be using live captioning from a 3rd party vendor, such as ACSAND you will be streaming to either Facebook or Youtube, you will need to inform the vendor the captioner will need to do a dual output, where the captioner captions directly to Zoom but then sends a second feed to YouTube or Facebook. This does not add an additional cost, but it does ensure the captions that appear on the stream are smooth and timely.

If you plan on releasing a recording of your event, it will also need captioning if it is public.

Rescheduling Your Event

If you need to reschedule your event and have used Zoom's registration system, Zoom will prompt you if you want the system to automatically send an updated invitation to all the folks that have registered.

Article number: KB0033033

Valid to: April 11, 2025