Pro Tip: Structured Q&A During A Large Conference

Hands-RaisedWhen giving a presentation to a large audience it’s best to keep most of the participants muted. It’s only logical, the more people who join any given conference, the greater the chance that someone will introduce noise that causes a disturbance.

The formal presentation is usually followed by a question-and-answer session. One of the big advantages using of a conference service is allowing participants to pose questions in their own voice, which lends a more personal tone to the proceeding.

Historically, this sort of structured control of a conference required the use of costly operator-assisted conferencing. This runs counter to the DIY ethos here at ZipDX, where we’ve crafted tools that let you truly take command of your conference.

What follows is an example of setting up and running just such a conference.

Part 1: Scheduling The Conference

Since we’re going to need to examine a few conference settings, we’ll schedule the conference using the ZipDX web portal.

(a) Assigning Hosts

In this case, we’ll explicitly invite those few people who will be presenting. This allows us to assign them host rights in advance. Hosts are never automatically muted, even when lecture modes are invoked to mute participants.

create conference via web assign hosts

(b) Lecture Mode

When a lecture mode is enabled participants joining the conference are automatically muted. The ensures the or presentation or discussion is not interrupted by someone joining from a noisy location.

There are two types of Lecture Mode:

  • Soft Lecture Mode – Participants are automatically muted, but can unmute themselves by pressing *6 on their telephone keypad.
  • Hard Lecture Mode – Participants are automatically muted, and cannot unmute themselves.

Regardless of which lecture mode is enabled, hosts and interpreters are not automatically muted. They retain full control of their mute state.

Invoking Lecture Mode

Lecture mode can be invoked several ways:

1. In Advance – Lecture mode can be enabled in the conference settings in the process of scheduling the conference via the web portal.


If this is something that you do routinely, you may want to create a conference template with the requisite settings predefined. That way you ensure the conference behavior you require, even if scheduling conferences using your Google our Outlook calendar.

2. On-the-fly – A Host can invoke lecture mode on-the-fly using the conference dashboard. The Lecture menu in the Host Controls has the relevant options (as shown below.)



3. Automatically – Perhaps most significantly, when a conference crests 50 participants the system will automatically invoke lecture mode.

(c) Host Advanced Start

The Host Advanced Start property will allow us to get the team that’s presenting collecting in the conference well in advance of when the participants arrive.

template audio features

In most cases, allowing hosts to connect 5-10 minutes early helps ensure that everyone is ready to go at the scheduled start time.

Part 2: Taking Live Q&A

Now the stage has been set. The presentation has been given. It’s time for structured question and answers. Each question will be asked by the participant, in their own voice. This is coordinated by a host via the conference dashboard.

Raising Hands

Begin by providing some guidance to the audience. “Anyone who has a question can raise the hand by pressing *1 in their telephone keypad.”

When a participant raises their hand they hear, “Your hand is now raised. You are number __.”

Conference Dashboard

The dashboard indicates who has raised their hand. Clicking on the Hand label sorts the list based upon the order in which hands were raised, as shown below.


Clicking on a participants name, we see two related options in the resulting menu. It also shows how long they’ve been waiting with their hand raised.Call-On-Menu

Lower Hand – If you decide to not take a question from a particular participant you can lower their hand. This moves them out of the group sorted to the top of the participant list.

Call On – Clicking on the “Call-on” link plays an short announcement, then unmutes the participant.

The host hears, “Participant unmuted.”

The participant hears, “You have been called on by the host. Please begin speaking.”

When engagement with that participant has ended, revisit the menu and Lower Hand to return the participant to a muted state.

“Calling-on” another participant directly will also return the prior participant to a muted state.


Not every conference call is a conversation. Some are presentations, with only a few people speaking to an audience. These tend to be larger conference with greater opportunity for noise. When using ZipDX, lecture modes keep the audience muted, avoiding noise and distraction.

Once the formal presentation has ended, it’s great to take questions from the participants in their own voice. This adds a personal touch, improving audience engagement.

The combination of Lecture Modes and the ability to Call-On participants transforms a one-way presentation into an interactive engagement with structured questions and answers.


If you have questions about any aspect of ZipDX please contact our support team at:

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Posted in: Good Ideas

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