Congratulations! You’ve just been invited to participate in a panel as a “thought leader.” Just as events have made the transition from in person to online, panels and conferences are now widely available from the comfort of your own computer. As such, here are some tips on how to ensure your virtual panel goes smoothly.
There’s nothing worse than your audio cutting out just as you introduce an insightful idea. To combat this, be sure to check your internet connection before you log on to the panel. A test run can also show you what technical challenges you might face. If you’re in a room or building with a weak, unreliable connection, using a strong mobile hotspot is a quick workaround.
Find Your Quiet Space
Whether you’re sitting in an office or on your living room couch, there are bound to be some distractions. A panel requires focus to communicate your thoughts, so try to get away from the noise. The area should also be well lit and provide a clean background so attendees can clearly see you. Don’t be afraid to let others nearby know that you’ll be participating in a panel to reduce any other distractions – just make sure to thank them later!
Prepare Your Key Messages
Typically, a panel host or moderator will provide participants with questions beforehand. Use that information to prepare what you want to say before logging on. It will prevent the conversation from veering off-topic and give you the confidence to focus on the lessons and ideas you want the audience to take away from the event.
Cameras on and Be Present
Sometimes, it can be tempting to turn your camera off momentarily if you need to stretch your legs or grab some coffee. But for others, your sudden disappearance can be a huge distraction. It also doesn’t give a great impression of your attentiveness and preparation. If you take care of those things beforehand, you can keep the camera rolling and be an attentive participant.
Stay on Mute Until You Speak
In any panel, and especially a digital one, there are bound to be times when speakers interrupt each other and disrupt the flow of a dialogue. Online, you can prevent that by staying muted when you aren’t speaking. While the host should have the power to mute participants, don’t be afraid to do your part! Unmuting can also indicate that you have a thought to share and will lend itself to more effective transitions and introductions.
Remember to Thank the Audience and Host
As the panel winds down, remember to thank everyone for attending and the host for putting the event together. Additionally, remember to give attendees your contact information if they’d like to follow up on anything. These last-minute tips seem small but can go a long way in your professional networking.
The next time you’re on a virtual panel, remember these tips to seem prepared, communicate your point of view, and hopefully get invited the next time around.