Virtual panel discussions are all the rage during this COVID-crisis. Yet many of them are one-way communications between the panelists with little interaction from the audience. As panel moderators, we often rely on one or two techniques to engage the audience, however, there are myriad ways to encourage their involvement. Here is a list of ways that you can engage your audience during a virtual panel discussion:
1) As the audience arrives into the room, start talking! Ask them to comment in the chat box to share their name and location. Ask a simple question that is tied to the panel topic. Share what is written in the chat box so others contribute as well!
2) Within the first five minutes, engage the audience so they stay interested and connected.
3) Take a formal poll (using the polling feature in the system) to baseline key information
4) Take an informal poll using a literal raising of hands (if you can see everyone)
5) Take an informal poll by using the “raise hand” feature in the system
7) Ask a provocative question and ask the audience to answer in the chat box
8) Ask a polarizing question and ask the audience to answer in the chat box
9) Ask the audience to react to a panelist’s comment in the chat box
10) Ask the audience to comment on what they see in the chat box
11) Ask the audience to share the themes they have heard during the discussion
12) Ask the audience to “Check-In” to gauge how everyone is feeling/doing on the topic
13) Share a funny and engaging picture
14) Share two funny and engaging pictures that compare and contrast
15) Share a funny and engaging video
16) Share a funny and engaging cartoon
17) Call on a person in the audience to answer a question
18) Call on a person in the audience to comment on what has been said
19) Call on a person in the audience to ask a question
20) Play a game such as Bingo, Would You Rather, etc.
21) Pose a statement and ask the audience if it is true or false (fact or fiction)
22) Pose a statement and ask the audience if they agree/disagree
23) Use breakout rooms for smaller groups to discuss an issue
24) Prioritize a list using a poll
25) Prioritize a list using annotations
26) Crowdsource a list using external software/app
27) Ask the audience to share their key takeaways in the chat box
28) Ask the audience to share their key takeaways using external software/app
29) Take a poll
30) Or any of the techniques listed above!
This is just a partial list….what else do you do to engage your audience during a virtual panel discussion?