Expert Input: The Keynote Address

The classic event format is the lecture, also known as a keynote. Participants play a receptive role, they listen. As far as the procedure is concerned, this format is very close to the analogue setting; the content is either streamed in the digital world or the speaker gets the largest share of speaking time in a shared room.

Room setup and group size

For a keynote address and depending on the size of the group, a decision should be made as to which conference room of the conference centre will be used:

  • For small groups (<40 people): Everyone is in a workshop room. All participants have their microphones and, if necessary, cameras switched off, only the speakers can be seen. Participants can communicate with each other via Rocket.Chat, or - if desired - use the raise hand function to indicate a request to speak and then join in via their microphones on the audio track.

  • For large groups (>40 people): Set up a stage room for streaming. The participants are in this stage room and can chat with each other via Rocket.Chat and, if necessary, also with the speaker. The speaker, however, streams from another workshop room created specifically for this purpose. In order for the speaker to have access to the chat with the participants, he or she must also enter their stage room in another browser tab or use the Rocket.Chat app via smartphone.


When starting, the speakers can show their presentation slides. A short technical check is recommended to make sure that they can be heard well and that the slides can be seen - the participants can give feedback via chat. Before the actual presentation, it is advisable to briefly point out how to deal with questions. As in the analogue space, it is also advisable to deal with them after the presentation. If the speaker and participants are in a smaller group in the same workshop room, you can also encourage the group to express their approval with a signal of applause. This will give the speaker the feeling that they are not speaking to an empty room! If you have chosen the streaming setting for large groups, interaction during the presentation is not possible. Questions in the chat are usually only dealt with after the presentation has taken place, after all, the speaker is busy speaking.

Keynotes are usually short formats, particularly in the digital space, the actual speaking time should not exceed 15 minutes. The advantage of a digital keynote is that it can be recorded without much technical effort and can be shared with a wider audience afterwards - always after prior consultation, of course!

  • Check that the speaker is visible and audible (micro/video settings) and has the rights to share his or her screen in order to show slides.

  • All persons other than the speaker are muted and turn off their cameras to keep the focus on the speaker.

  • For any recording (in consultation with the speaker): Start recording for the keynote and then stop recording immediately after the input allowing the Q&A session to take place in a protected space

The interactive minimum: Questions & Answers (Q&A)

Especially after a lecture-style input, you should give people the chance to ask questions and announce this in advance. In the DINA setup, you have the following options for Q&A implementation:

  • Digital list of speakers: BigBlueButton allows for digital raising of hands via the status symbols - these can be used to create a list of speakers to be read out by the moderator. Alternatively, a physical reaction (raising one' s hand in front of the screen) can be requested (when the videos are activated).

Attention: If the group is large, not all videos will be displayed at once – the moderator must then pay special attention to ensuring that all voices are heard.

  • Written questions/comments in the chat: especially in a large group or if not everyone can use their mics/videos, asking questions/commenting via Rocket.Chat is a good option (for smaller groups also directly in the video chat). The speaker or a moderator can read the messages out loud and then respond to them.

  • Popcorn style in a smaller group: Depending on the momentum, participants are asked to turn on their microphone in a "popcorn style" and ask a question/comment into the room.

Technical advice: In a participatory Q&A, please make sure that the participants can turn on their microphones by themselves. If necessary, a tech moderator can provide assistance.

It is a question of style whether to have the speaker respond directly to the questions/comments individually, or to collect some comments from the audience first and have the speaker respond collectively.

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