Many VAs host or facilitate online chats for their clients. An online chat is a "live" interactive discussion via a Web based board. Discussion/Chat rooms are used by a lot of online conventions.
If you are asked to host or facilitate a chat be sure that you have good typing, spelling, and grammer skills. Decline the offer or find someone else to be the host if you feel your skills aren't refined enough to keep up with a lively discussion.
Here are a few tips for hosting a chat.
CHAT HOST TIPS
Before the chat type a few "welcome" message to send when people join the room. Type a list of questions in a text document that you can ask the room that go with your topic to get conversation started. If you have specific information you would like to offer to people, have it ready in a text or word document also. Then copy the information and just paste it into the room to greet new arrivals, share information, or to stimulate chat.
You are the first person a chatter spots when they come into the room. Always introduce yourself to new arrivals. After greeting the newcomer and a couple of times during the chat -- usually after several new people join -- post a short bio on yourself or the company you are representing.
Guide new arrivals toward the current topic and make them feel welcome. This is where the list of questions and other information that you have prepared in advance come in handy.
Try to draw visitors out of silence if possible, but don't harrass them or put them in an awkward spot. It's possible their typing skills aren't the best and they don't feel comfortable joining in the conversation.
I doubt you will get any complaints or rude comments, but if you do don't take them personally and respond to them professionally.
Note: 3-12 people is a good number for a chat. Only about 3 out of 10 people will actually participate in the chat. The most important thing to remember if more people start chatting is to address their questions one at a time -- unless you are a power typist. :-)
If you do start getting a lot of questions, explain you will give everyone time to ask their questions and you will answer questions one at a time. Then don't get overwhelmed. Stay in control of the discussion. Start by answering the first question you received and work down from there. When you are caught up, you can ask if anyone else has any questions.
You may want to have text ready that explains the question and answer procedure. You probably won't need it, but it's better to be prepared.
And MOST important of all is to remember to have fun!