Live events may be easing back into our everyday and professional lives, but not every industry is making a direct return to physical conferences and presentations. Virtual panel events have grown especially popular over the last year and a half, particularly for industries where company personnel and experts are situated across the globe e.g charity events and global corporations.
Not only does a virtual panel discussion increase the accessibility of a presentation or event, it also means that event can be recorded and shared with a wider audience through social channels and email. This will broaden the scope of your discussion and ensure it has a greater impact.
But how do you ensure a virtual panel discussion runs smoothly? In this blog we share some of our top tips for chairing a virtual panel discussion, from keeping everything on track to ensuring every conversation is as productive as possible.
Our tips for chairing a virtual panel discussion
The first tip is a simple one… Get the timings right for all attendees. This is especially crucial if you are linking up with colleagues and peers in other countries, so decide on a time and make sure it is at a sociable hour that is convenient for everyone that needs to be present.
- Test your tech in advance
The number of meetings which are cut short by poor technology is astounding – and it’s such an easy fix. Testing your technology in advance means checking the access links are up and running, ensuring that your presentation screen is working, testing any guest speaker presentations in advance and inviting guests to check their own microphones and connections.
- Make your expectations clear from the outset
Virtual panel etiquette is always a tricky subject to address, so communicating your expectations from the outset will ensure you don’t have any awkward conversations during the discussion. Some of our top recommendations include:
- Asking guests to mute themselves when someone else is speaking
- Not talking over others
- Encouraging active listening to support other speakers
- Consider the background and what you speakers wear
It may seem trivial, but the background of your panel discussion can have a big impact on how it is perceived. For example, a green screen background is great for added branding, but if one of your speakers wears a green top they could end up blending into the background. Striped shirts can also warp the visuals on a screen and big jewellery can catch the light at awkward angles and make visibility difficult.
It’s also worth noting that the background itself should use as much natural light as possible and present a clean, professional, quiet atmosphere. Plants are a great way of adding décor and extra warmth.
- Encourage interaction at set times
Interaction is great for a panel discussion – in fact, a lot of the time it’s the interaction between speakers which draws out the most interesting points. However, managing this on a virtual platform can be difficult, so we recommend implementing set points where discussion is encouraged. Otherwise, you may have to stop speakers from talking over one another!
- Set the agenda and send it out to all attendees
Giving attendees something to follow will keep them actively engaged in your panel discussion and will help the panel to stick to timings.
A virtual panel discussion is a valuable way of bringing professionals together and introducing new arguments and concepts that might otherwise not come to light. It defies the laws of geography and enables people from around the world to come together and share ideas – which can then be saved and shared further through social media and email marketing.
Next time you’re planning a virtual panel discussion, give some thought to tips we have outlined and work through the potential challenges in advance. It might just save you a few moments of embarrassment on camera!
For more advice and guidance, get in touch with our Wise Productions team today to see how we can support your next virtual event!