Live event management is a handful. Virtual events should also be well thought out. How can we create a memorable experience when everyone is participating online? Let’s teleport into this topic together.
First, consider what must be accomplished. What cannot be achieved without this time together? Determine how long the virtual experience should last. It’s usually less than you think. Next, line up the right technologies to ensure it fits the needs of your virtual experience. As tech is selected, use security tactics to avoid unwanted distractions. With objectives and logistics in place, it’s time to flesh out the experience.
While our connected era has unlocked the next level of efficiency with these virtual interactions, a drawback to online gatherings is the lack of time before and after a meeting. This means there’s less serendipitous interplay. Stay efficient, but it may be wise to weave in random value through manufactured moments that still feel natural for participants.
As attendees arrive, use your opening remarks to set the tone. Generate cohesion with jolts of genuine energy as any rules of engagement are quickly confirmed. If there’s a meeting agenda, run through that and connect it with meeting goals so attendees know what to expect.
After a welcoming attendees with a concise, energizing, and clarifying introduction, have fun unpacking the primary discussion. Stay on task and try to avoid distractions, but leave time for interactive dialogue. With less open dialogue due to the limitations of a virtual experience, this is one way to create space for those manufactured moments of serendipity. These conversational buffers help to avoid having the loudest voice be the only one that’s heard and invites an inclusive environment with deliberate space for everyone to participate.
The term “hybrid” is hard to define. There’s value in weaving tech into in-person events so that others are able to virtually feel the experience. There’s also value in keeping things simple so the focus remains on your attendee’s engagement. Experiment with what works for you, but one interesting combination is to go all-in with live events, and then add strategic online events into the mix. This avoids fragmented coordination, eliminates the hollowness of virtual content within an in-person experience, and creates ease for organizers who benefit from both types of environments.
As you bring your online events together, you want interactivity so it’s not talking heads with attendees pretending to listen. Do this by including icebreakers, musical moments, pop-up polls, breakout discussions, scavenger hunts, doodling exercises, physical activities, and scheduled breaks. Encourage note taking and grab screenshots as artifacts to share later. Leave time for questions before wrapping things up.
As you bring things to a close, it’s important everyone feels a sense of accomplishment. If ramblings drag on before the meeting abruptly cuts off, people will leave feeling empty. Keep the virtual energy juicy, review key takeaways, and encourage action to tie a bow on the efficiency of all your online events.