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Top Tips to Moderate Panels On-Line

Top Tips to Moderate Panels On-Line

Meeting Format

  • Especially for virtual, avoid one person talking at length: create a fireside chat rather than a monologue if you have only one presenter.
  • Use slides sparingly (if at all), as it risks disengagement, and can disrupt natural discussion flow.

Advance Prep

  • Seat a diverse panel of 3 people based on race, gender, geography, and/or industry.
  • Schedule separate panelist prep sessions to learn about their relevant experiences/views (easier to schedule, 1-1 networking).
  • Use those interviews to reverse-engineer the best questions to ask each speaker.
  • Write up and circulate your moderator guide to all speakers for final design input.
  • Do not repeat the same question: tell speakers that they are welcome to add on to another panelist’s response but that you won’t be re-asking the same question.
  • Set expectations, ground rules (i.e., please provide brief answers so that you can field many audience-generated questions).


•      Start (and end) on time.

•      Know where your camera is and position yourself to look directly at the camera—preferably a camera angle a few inches above eye level.

•      You might stand up and step back if that feels and looks best on camera.

•      Make sure that lighting is behind device, never behind you or beside you which puts you in shadow. TIP: Do not face the window.

•      Check your Background –ensure nothing is figuratively “sticking out of your head”. Background should be neat, uncluttered, appropriate.

•      If needed, put animals in another room to avoid inopportune animal noise/visuals.

•      Put your moderator guide/questions next to your device at camera/eye level—make the font size LARGE if that helps.

•       Set clear ground rules up-front (the outline/plan for the session, call for questions, other general announcements).

Invite audience to submit questions using Chat or Q&A vs. unmuting to allow them to ask directly (unmuting is slower, risks grand-standing)

•      When possible, have a “green room” to have last-minute prep conversation with panelists to reinforce key points; format; etc.

•      When possible, enlist someone to help with logistics, monitoring the chat, providing you private notes (text by phone or private chat).

•      Silence your phone so that if you do receive a text, it makes no noise.

The Event

•      Conserve precious time: provide bios in advance and keep introductions brief.

•      Have prepared questions to fill one hour (~8-15) but revert to audience questions when you see the queue building (e.g., look for questions at 10-15 min mark); use an audience plant to start questions, if needed.

•     Direct audience questions to a specific panelist by name or clearly ask “who would like to address…”

•      Generate engagement by giving credit to audience members by name when you pose their questions to a specific panelist.

•      Look for opportunities to combine similar questions to maximize coverage of all audience questions.

•      Listen closely to speakers’ responses and ask follow-up questions that you think might be on the audience’s mind.

•      Don’t be afraid to show your own expertise in summarizing/ clarifying. BUT, keep it short. You are the moderator, not a panelist.

Post- Event

•      Thank panelists and the audience for participating.

•      Check key success metrics: (1) did the audience stay until the end? (2) Did you address all/most of their questions?

•      Circulate quick post-call survey to get feedback.

•      Write an article after the session and post it on LinkedIn, for example, to share the wisdom of your panelists.

•      Use the opportunity for further networking– Share your article with someone (“I thought you would be interested in this article I wrote on X. . . .)”


Posted on: November 21, 2020, 12:58 pm Category: Uncategorized

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