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I am often asked, “When do I NEED to use microphones during a panel discussion?”

For audiences under 50 people, you may be able to get away without using microphones. Between 50-75, it’s nice to have. Over 75, I highly recommend using some kind of amplification system. Even if you don’t think you need it, other people will appreciate it!

If you choose to use an amplification system, here are my recommendations:

When to use microphones during a panel discussion:

  • Panelists. Each panelist should have an individual lavaliere microphone; however, budget or logistics may make it necessary to share. When sharing a microphone, a wireless handheld is preferable. If sitting at a table, a table microphone is acceptable.
  • Moderator. The moderator should always have a lavaliere microphone or use the lectern microphone. When moving into the audience for Q&A, the moderator will need an additional wireless handheld to capture audience comments – or just use a wireless handheld throughout the program.
  • Audience. If the moderator stays on the stage, you’ll need to have a “runner” (or two) with a wireless microphone in hand OR a wireless or corded microphone on a stand in strategic places throughout the audience.  You can also use a throwable microphone (I use a Catchbox) so the audience can throw the microphone to the next questioner!

Make sure you coordinate your microphone requirements with your meeting organizer and/or audio-visual crew.  They’ll appreciate your attention to detail and use of microphones during an amazing panel discussion!

Related Articles:

How to Organize a Panel Discussion

Audience and Panelist Engagement AFTER the Panel Discussion

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

3 Popular Panel Discussion Formats


For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative panel discussion, check out our free 7-part video series or our other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.

Photo source: Depositphotos.com

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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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