Zoom =

Hot Seat on Zoom

Using the spotlight function on Zoom, highlight a participant for the hot seat. Have other participants raise their hands and/or unmute to ask questions of the person in the hot seat. Swap who's in the hot seat, the given topic, or both as needed.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Explain the rules of the Hot Seat, sharing that the participant in the hot seat will be answering questions about a given topic and that all other participants will be tasked with asking questions (including follow-up questions).
  2. Copy-paste guidelines in the chat for reference.
  3. Spotlight the participant who will be in the hot seat so that their video is featured regardless of who is talking.
  4. Call on other participants to ask their question(s). Have participants identify themselves by unmuting or using the raise hand feature, depending on the group size.
  5. If desired, rotate the person who is in the hot seat and/or the topic that they are being questioned on. Repeat.


Have the rules or guidelines that you want to share with participants for Hot Seat typed up so that you can easily copy-paste those guidelines into the chat. Ensure that you have the 'raise hand' feature enabled in your Zoom settings.


Choose a participant for the hot seat based on their role, experience, stance or another trait. For instance, you might choose a senior leader to allow participants time to ask direct questions. Alternatively, you might pick a newer employee if you want to spotlight that experience and perspective. In any case, the person in the Hot Seat should have specialized knowledge or perspective the rest of the group can learn from.

Give participants a minute or two to come up with questions before inviting the first question. This will lead to more thoughtful questions, and less pausing between questions. Have participants "raise their hand" and call on them to unmute when you're ready for the next question. If you don't have a lot of hands raised, you consider inviting follow-up questions.

Try to switch participants in the hot seat before you run out of questions, or if you start to notice redundant questions and themes. This will keep the energy up.

Spotlighting a participant's video will ensure that they are featured on all participants’ screens too, if you ‘pin’ their video it will only be pinned on your screen.

Substituting Apps

If you're using apps other than Zoom, here are the specific things your software will need to be able to do:

Zoom allows you to feature or spotlight a single participant's video.


Author HeadshotTacoma, WA

Activity by Meg Bolger

Co-developer of Facilitator Cards. Co-author of Unlocking the Magic of Facilitation. Adamant believer that facilitation can change the world.

Facilitation Testers Needed

This activity by Meg Bolger would really benefit from other facilitators testing it, tweaking it, and reporting back. If you give it a try in your virtual facilitation, all we ask is that you tell us how it went.

The main things we're wondering are regarding the context you facilitated it in (with whom, and toward what goal), how well it worked (what worked and what didn't), and in what ways you altered the instructions to make it work for you.