14 Ways to Add Visual Variety to a Virtual Panel Discussion

Live Virtual Panel Discussion Vs. a Recorded Panel Discussion: Pitfalls, Risks, Pros, Cons
December 10, 2020
123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion
December 22, 2020

It was a virtual panel discussion at the end of a three-day virtual conference.  Not only was I suffering from Zoom fatigue, but all the panels were starting to look the same.  Similar to the Brady Bunch or Hollywood Squares, all I saw were heads in boxes. So then my dry eyes wandered over to the unmade bed in the background.  Yeck!

It got me thinking about the different ways to create visual variety within a virtual frame.  Here are some ideas:


  1.  “Stage” your background to look interesting.  Room Rater is a clever way to see what works – and what doesn’t!
  2. Create a virtual background for each panelist that matches their area of expertise.
  3. Orchestrate different virtual backgrounds for each panelist that matches the segment of the panel.  For example, when the panel moves to Q&A, the moderator and panelists all switch their virtual backgrounds.
  4. Encourage the moderator and panelists to have a “two camera” set up so the person can toggle between different camera views.
  5. Have a panelist take us on a “tour” of their room, office, or house.


  1. Ask the panelists to write down their answer on a whiteboard and display it to the camera.
  2. Have the panelists share an object within reach – or go get a specific item.
  3. Encourage the panelists to “show and tell” with a prop that demonstrates their idea.
  4. Take a poll using different colored objects e.g. grab something green for agree, yellow for undecided/neutral, and red for disagree.

The People:

  1. Have all your panelists wear a specific color (or two colors if you are debating two sides to an issue)
  2. Encourage your panelists to dress according to the meeting or panel theme.
  3. Dress up – emphasizing the role you have been asked to play.
  4. Play a character.  One moderator dressed as a soccer referee – complete with a black and white referee shirt and whistle!
  5. Don a costume.  Dr. Stephen de Wit recently got my attention with his pink boa hat, flashy scarf, and pink fur cuffs!

Please, don’t do ALL of these in the same panel, but one or two techniques will certainly add more pizazz to your panel discussion!


For more resources on moderating panel discussions, visit the Knowledge Vault. To have Kristin moderate your next panel, visit the Powerful Panels official website.

Related Articles:

How to Moderate a Virtual Panel Discussion

How to Create GREAT Questions for Your Panelists to Answer during Your Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion Tip #185 with Jeffrey Hayzlett: Finishing Panel Discussions

Photo: https://www.istockphoto.com/

Kristin ArnoldKristin Arnold
Award-winning author Kristin Arnold is an expert panel moderator and professional meeting facilitator.
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