In Part 1, I shared information on how to ensure your virtual event runs smoothly. I provided thoughts on keeping the event short, moving along, providing breaks and involving your audience.
In this blog I am going to share how to create a panel discussion as a virtual event.
Theme: For a panel event you will want to include panel members that can lend value to the theme of the event. For example, let’s say your event is going to be called, “What Now?” With all the chaos of our world right now, this is a question that many of us are asking. The ideal participants for this group may be people who represent the medical community, political field, a futurist, a diversity expert, etc.
Think Global: There are no need for travel arrangements, so think beyond borders to find talent. Just be mindful of the time zone differences.
Panel Preparation: Once your panel participants are chosen, it’s important to interview each of them individually. This will provide insight into their expertise and passion, and help you to understand if any of them are long-winded. Be sure to share with them that they should keep all answers relatively short.
Prepare Questions: Also, ask participants to provide you with a few questions that they are very prepared to be asked. This will ensure that the answers to your questions are well thought out. Be prepared with 2 – 3 questions per panelist.
Panel Moderator: The moderator will also need to be prepared. Provide them with the questions and who will be answering the question ahead of time. It is so awkward to just put a question out there and the leave the panelists to decide who is going to answer it. Instead, the moderator should pose the question to the person that should answer it.
Encourage Discussion: Once the panelist has answered their question, other panelists may wish to chime in. Ask them to raise a hand up for a second or two to let the moderator know they have information to add. The moderator should then introduce this section by saying something along the lines of, “We’ll take a couple of brief comments from our other panelists.”
Audience Participation: If the virtual event platform allows, consider encouraging audience members to pose some questions. This “chat” section will require its own moderator. The moderator can keep the audience active and engaged by posing questions. Start before the event even begins by asking, “Hello all, please share where you are tuning in from.” Throughout the event they can encourage questions, ask for thoughts on key information, talk up the next event and remind people to like and follow the organizations social accounts, as well as those of the panelists.
End well: To wrap up, ask each panel member to provide a sentence or two as a parting thought, even better, a call to action. Thank the panel and thank the audience, have the moderator also provide a parting thought and an amazing virtual panel discussion event has been enjoyed by all!