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!

Related Articles:

How to Moderate a Virtual Panel Discussion

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

27 Popular Panel Discussion Formats

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

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF | Master, professional panel moderator and high stakes meeting facilitator is on a quest to make all panel discussions lively and informative. Check out her free 7-part video series on how to moderate a panel and other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.

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Kristin ArnoldKristin Arnold
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.
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