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Dr. Ketra Armstrong one of the panelists at TEDxUofM said, “I liked (the Zoom format)…particularly when the cameras are on it feels like there is a level of engagement.  If you’re in (an actual) panel there’s a level of distance, so Zoom brings us close, literally and figuratively.”

I agree.  There’s a certain level of intimacy in the virtual world that I haven’t experienced in the in-person world.  I think of Patrick Lencioni who gave a speech to the Chief Executive Network about leadership in these COVID times – and I felt like he was talking just to me.  So how do we foster a sense of intimacy over a camera?

How to Create Intimacy in the Virtual World

Mindset.  First and foremost, I think we have to get over the idea that virtual is a secondary platform and “not as good” as face-to-face.  In these pandemic times, it has been served up as a substitute.  Less than.  Au contraire.  It is just different than face-to-face and from here on out, our world will consist of both modalities.  And each has benefits and well as weaknesses.  So why not celebrate and leverage the strengths of the virtual platform?

Be Comfortable.  You can’t openly share if you aren’t comfortable – with the platform, the format, the moderator, or your fellow panelists.  Take some extra time to go through a tech check, making sure that you are comfortable with the technology.  Be proactive and reach out to the panelists and/or moderator.  Invest a bit of time to get to know them.

Talk to the Camera.  In the Zoom world, you can be looking at the gallery view and/or watch yourself!  That’s so weird when you are trying to have an intimate conversation – especially when your camera is NOT located in the middle of your computer screen!  Please, please, please put your camera close to your computer screen, or you can be like my colleague, Bruce Turkel who jerry-rigged his camera in the middle of the screen OR you can simply talk to the camera.

Talk to a Person.  Intimacy comes from a genuine sense of caring about another human being.  So as you are talking to the camera, think about one person in that gallery view with whom you want to create that human connection.  And simply talk to that person.

Lean In.  When you are sharing a particularly pertinent point, or sharing something important, lean in like you are telling us a secret.  Ahhh…so powerful!

Tell Personal and Meaningful Stories.  Share your story of a struggle that will resonate with the audience – including a few of the tough, real, human emotions that occurred.  We can all relate to that struggle and are willing to go on the story-journey with you.

Make It About Them.  Although you are sharing your story, make it relevant to the audience.  When you care about the audience, they will care about what you say.

Be Genuine.  Throughout this “list” to create intimacy, it all comes down to being authentic and genuine in your conversation.  So forget this list.  Just be you.  Speak from the heart.  Share the information and stories that your audience cares about and will benefit from.

Have Fun.  And don’t forget to enjoy yourself while you are moderating or being on a panel discussion.  When you have fun, so will the audience.

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

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