Last week, I had the privilege of leading a roundtable discussion at Converge20 on “How Behavioral Science Powers Empathetic Workplace Routines and Policies.”   The roundtable discussion focused on how to inject empathy into compliance, and how human-centered compliance policies and systems more effectively mitigated risk.

I have facilitated several in-person roundtables before, but this was my first virtual roundtable.  The conference used Hopin, which permit participants to participate via video and chat.

Here are five things I learned from facilitating my first virtual roundtable:

  1. Attend as many of the other conference sessions on the day of your presentation.  Listen and incorporate the advice, thoughts, and wisdom of the other panelists into your roundtable.  Participate in the session chats, and also practice using video as much as you can.

  2. Practice with the conference platform frequently before showtime and arrive earlier to your session – approximately 30 minutes earlier.  It is technology – everything could go wrong when the moment arrives.  And, keep track of the time as you engage with your participants.

  3. Scan your screen, and remember that you will not be able to read the participants’ body language.  Participants can participate via chat and video, and most of the time, will opt for the chat.  Watch that chat screen closely, because that will serve as a bellwether for how your session is going.

  4. Be ready to paraphrase  the chat out loud as participants type in their questions, comments, and responses.  You may be the only one on video for awhile until someone feels compelled and comfortable enough to turn on his/her video to engage in a conversation with you and the other participants.

  5. Keep track of the time and be ready to ask for help from the assigned session facilitator.  Someone always will be there to deal with participants’ technical issues.

Breathe deeply and be prepared to enjoy yourself as participants become more comfortable with you and the online platforms. 

Focus on learning from your audience as you engage.

And then begin honing your virtual roundtable skills for the next one.


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