Conference & Events Planning

Guidelines for Virtual Events

Events at Reed will look different this semester, as many talks, lectures, and other gatherings that would normally be held in person will now happen virtually. Following are some guidelines to help you host successful online events.

We recommend that you start by consulting this resource page on Reed’s website about how to use Zoom for meetings and events and set up your free Reed Zoom account. This IT resource guide details the various possibilities for Zoom meetings so that you can structure your event in the format that works best for you.

All Zoom free licenses allow up to 100 participants by default (meetings are limited to 40 minutes). The Pro licenses available to faculty and staff have a 300 participant limit and unlimited minutes. Zoom Video Webinar allows you to broadcast to a larger number of view-only attendees, depending on the size of your webinar license. Questions about licenses and participant limits should be directed to IT.

CEP is available to help you plan your virtual event. If you are organizing a large-scale or high-profile public event (such as a major public lecture or performance) for which CEP would normally provide event management, logistical coordination, and onsite support, a CEP event manager can help run your virtual event by being present in the Zoom meeting or webinar and managing the online logistics. If you are organizing a smaller departmental event for which you would normally handle the majority of the planning and logistics yourself, a representative from your department should plan to host and be present at that virtual event.

CEP managers can host large events on their Zoom accounts for you if they are helping to plan your event. All smaller departmental events should use the Zoom accounts of individuals from within the department for hosting, and CEP staff will not be present at those events.

Virtual events should be posted to Localist. When posting your event, be sure to choose the “Virtual” event designation instead of “In Person” in the Location/Experience category.

You should not post Zoom links or passwords in the Localist event description. Options for distributing Zoom links securely include:

  • Zoom Registration: When you create your event in Zoom, you can choose to require event registration and then post the registration link to your event. When participants register via the link, Zoom will send them the meeting login and password information.
  • Event RSVP: Include the organizer’s email address in your Localist event and take RSVPs, with the organizer sending out the meeting link information individually.
  • Secure Webpage: Create a departmental webpage that requires a Reed login, and post all of your Zoom links there. Link to your webpage from the Localist event.
  • Calendar: Create a calendar that requires users to subscribe and post your Zoom links there.

If you have any questions about virtual events, CEP is here to help you navigate them. Feel free to contact us at

Tips for running Zoom events

  • Determine roles in advance.
    • Who controls the permissions/waiting room?
    • Who will engage with the chat room?
    • Who is the timekeeper?
    • Who asks the questions?
    • Who provides the ground rules? (It's always good to let everyone know the expectations for how the session will be run, how to interact, and how long it will last.)
  • Depending on the number of participants, determine if you're going to let people ask questions in person or have them type questions into the chat. Having participants type saves time and avoids runaway questions, but having questions asked in person is more friendly and personal.
  • Using two screens can be helpful.
    • First Zoom screen
    • Second for chat bar and participants
    • Third for working script/Q&A document
  • Create a Google document that is shared with the speaker to be used as a script, and provide cleaned-up questions from the chat bar. (The chat bar can become unruly, and messages can get lost).
  • Have a plan in case you lose the connection.
  • Remind presenters that a wired connection is always best (sometimes this involves coming to campus).
  • Remind presenters to be aware of their backdrop (offer Zoom backgrounds).
  • Make sure that if people are registering via Zoom for the event (recommended) you manually send a reminder email to everyone who is confirmed with their unique login (easy to do via Zoom). Monitor the designated email inbox at the start of the event in case people email asking for support.
  • Double-check all the permissions/settings before you begin the session.
  • Practice with panelists/volunteers before you launch!