Tips for Presenting at the AHEAD 2020 Virtual Conference

Preparing to present on Zoom for AHEAD 2020

Please be sure that you have a Zoom account (it can be a free Basic one). You will need to log in to your Zoom account during the conference in order to participate as a presenter. To get a Zoom account, visit:

Prepare your presenting space and equipment

Calm your environment and surroundings. Find a quiet, private space to present from. Make sure your phone is set to silent during your session. Have your presentation materials printed out and ready to go.

Prepare your computer by downloading and running any needed updates in advance. Run Disk Cleanup if you need to free up space on your computer. Turn off Notifications (Windows Instructions) and other pop-ups, alerts and sounds that might interfere with your presentation. Download a copy of your slideshow or other presentation materials to your Desktop. If you are part of a panel, make sure everyone has the complete slideshow on their Desktops.

For best broadcast quality, use a Desktop PC or Mac, or laptop with an Ethernet, T1 or similar connection. If using WiFi make sure that you have a strong signal, good upload/download speed and that other devices are not tapped into the WiFi during your presentation if possible.

If you are using a Laptop, don’t set it on your lap, since any movements will move your video appearance. Prop it up on a firm surface on a stack of books or other items so that your camera is just above eye level. You appear better if you are not looking down into the laptop camera.  We don’t recommend using an iPad or phone to access Zoom since the features are limited in the app for presenters.


Be aware of the quality of your audio. Some built-in computer microphones are very good, but many make your voice sound tinny, grating or create an echo, especially if you are not close to the microphone.

A USB headset will enhance and strengthen the sound of your voice. Even an inexpensive one works well in Zoom. Windows and OS usually recognize headphones automatically, but you can adjust the Sound Settings as you like. Be sure to choose your headset in Zoom by clicking on the Audio icon in the lower left corner.

If you do use the built-in computer microphone, try placing pillows or a blanket near or around your computer. They will absorb sound and reduce echoes.


Clip a light on your computer, or set a lamp behind it to help illuminate your face. Don’t sit with a window behind your head. Double-check your background. Make sure it’s not distracting or has personal or private items on display. If your computer is compatible, try using the AHEAD Conference image (JPEG Download) as a Zoom Virtual Background  or another, non-distracting option. Don’t use moving video or overly busy backgrounds.

Think about what you are wearing in contrast to the background. Try not to sit too close to your computer camera, or too far away. If possible, try to sit with your head and top of shoulders showing in your video “box.”

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Getting into your AHEAD 2020 Session

AHEAD staff will send you a link to your Zoom Meeting or Webinar at least two days before your scheduled session. The Zoom Meeting invitation looks like a long URL. The Zoom Webinar is an automated email with a link that says “Click Here to Join”. That’s a unique link for you as a Presenter (Panelist).  A different link will be sent to attendees of Webinars.

Please arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled start time.

Carol Funckes has sent reminders to all Presenters and Moderators with their schedule. If needed, see the Conference Program  for dates and times of presentations.

Zoom Meetings are what most people are familiar with. Presenters and attendees are all visible on the screen. Audience members can control what they see on their screens by choosing Speaker or Gallery Views and pinning Interpreters or speakers. This platform is being used for most Discussions.

The Zoom Webinar platform is more of a one-way presentation tool, i.e., attendees will not use their cameras or mics. Rather, they will ask their questions via the Q&A box which the Moderator will monitor.

Every Zoom session will include:

One of the AHEAD staff who hosts each session. They will start the webinar, ensure it is recording, and end the webinar, along with helping attendees as needed.

Moderators will be in touch with presenters about your preferences regarding making introductions, handling questions, etc. They will thank the audience for coming; introduce the presenters; monitor the Q&A window; and pose questions to the presenters; and remind participants of the evaluation form at the end.

A staff person from ACS Captions will provide real-time captioning services during the presentation, and ASL Interpreters will be there for those who have made requests.

General information about roles in a Webinar is available online.

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Using a Slideshow or Other Material in Zoom

All presenters in a session should have a copy of the complete PowerPoint for the session open on their computer Desktop. This is a useful backup in case one of your co-presenters has technical problems.

Zoom has instructions for Sharing your slideshow.

Before choosing your slideshow, check the two boxes to share your computer sound and to optimize your screen sharing. Instructions for this feature are available online.

Zoom includes a feature where presenters can give “remote control” to co-presenters to advance slides. The first presenter hovers the mouse to the very top of the screen and chooses Remote Control from the drop-down menu, indicating who can take over control of the slideshow. As an alternative, co-presenters can request control in a similar way.

More information about Remote Control is available online.

Carol Funckes has sent two versions of the AHEAD Conference-branded PowerPoint template, dark and light. You are not required to use one, but it will clearly mark the presentation as associated with this year’s virtual conference. You’ll notice the informative slides at the beginning and end: access & civility request and evaluation. If you do not use this slide template, please incorporate this information into your presentation.

As in any presentation, please read and describe content on your slides, and make sure that your videos are captioned.

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Handling Q&A in Your Presentation

As mentioned above, in Webinars, the Moderator will handle Q&A using a pop-up screen visible to attendees.

In Meetings, attendees can use either the Chat feature or speak or sign their questions and comments during the Q&A segment. The Host and Moderator can unmute attendees who wish to speak.

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