Prompt Brilliant Panelist Discussion with the “What If” Game

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Who knows what the future holds for you, me, our community, our country, the world?  These are the questions that many panel moderators are posing to brilliant panelists.

So why not make it interesting with the “What If” Game.

Here’s how it goes:

The moderator asks a panelist a question that starts with “What if…?” The panelist then provides a short response (no more than a paragraph) about what they could do, and selects another panelist to pick up the thread.  The new panelist says “and” to add new information or “or” to disagree with the previous comments or add a different perspective.

I did this with an hour-long virtual panel about the future of meetings using Zoom.  In this case, we asked these kinds of “What if” questions:

  • What if your venue can’t accommodate your meeting specs under new social distancing protocols. What could you do?
  • What if your guests are unwilling to participate in a modified meeting experience? What could you do?
  • What if you move to a virtual meeting, but your speakers are not tech-savvy. What could you do?
  • What if your venue won’t release you from contractual obligations. What could you do?
  • What if you can’t have an opening reception. What could you do?
  • What if your meeting requires hands-on learning, such as a wet lab? What could you do?

As the panelists were responding, the moderator also encouraged the audience to add their ideas to the chatbox.

And, as a nice touch, collect all the ideas and send them out after the panel discussion is over.


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


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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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