Zoom Hack – Showing A Panelist Without Webcam

This is a rather niche concern, but I was pleased with my off-the-cuff solution to a client problem and thought I would share…

The scenario was a public webinar given on Zoom Webinar. Attendees off-camera and muted; panelists on-camera in a round table discussion format. Also a couple of us working behind the scenes to manage introductions and deal with audience questions.

Shortly before go-time, one of the panelists informed us that she was having a bad reaction to her COVID vaccine and looked/felt terrible. She was willing to still be on the webinar, but didn’t want to be on camera. Could we accommodate that?

OBVIOUS SOLUTION #1: Just turn off her camera. The organizer was hoping to avoid this, because it would look inconsistent… Three panelists on video and one disembodied voice who can be forgotten when she isn’t talking.

OBVIOUS SOLUTION #2: Make sure she has a profile picture loaded in Zoom and enable the option to Show Non-Video Participants. It would show her picture and her name in a square in the grid view. The problem is that it would also show us worker-bees who are supposed to be hidden behind the scenes. Not perfect.

Before I tell you my alternate solution, would you like to pause and think about how you would get around both issues so we could see a picture of her along with her fellow panelists while keeping the assistants hidden?

WORKING SOLUTION: Have her upload her headshot as a virtual background image in Zoom. Cover her webcam lens and turn on the camera, selecting the uploaded virtual background. With a black camera image, all you see is the virtual background… In this case, her headshot appearing alongside her fellow panelists.


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