Event Planning Tips: Hosting Virtual Meetings
Updated: Jun 16
This unique time in our history has pushed organizations to make difficult decisions in regards to events that promote and support the livelihood of their business. Many companies rely on networking events, conventions, conferences etc to sell their products, establish new connections, get updates on their products out to their customers and more. As we adapt to a new normal, companies are pushed to adapt their models to serve these needs virtually and find creative methods to engage and connect with their customers and partners.
We have been working hard with our clients over the past months to re-evaluate plans for upcoming events and evaluate how and if we can make them valuable in a virtual setting. It's important to spend time looking at your business model and ensuring that it will be worth both your time and the customers' to logon and engage. While we are all balancing various roles at home - working full-time, teaching our children, taking care of loved ones etc - our time is more valuable than ever.
The other side of this is that we are finding people are more eager to socialize than ever. Virtual meetings have seen an uptick in attendance in comparison with in person event with everyone being stuck at home, eager to compare ideas, stories and feelings. Virtually meetings done right can be more beneficial than ever. We've taken some time to put together some Dos and Don'ts for Hosting Virtual Meetings and ideas to engage your audiences further:
Do a Test Run:
If you aren't comfortable with a virtual meeting platform (Zoom, Google Hangouts etc) ensure you take some time to play around with it before you host your event. This will allow you to get familiar with all the tools and will prepare you to answer questions from anyone who may not know how to use it. Things to be sure to know: how to mute/unmute, where the chat box is, how to turn audio/video on/off, and how to share your screen.
Think About How You Want People to Interact
Put together a plan for your meeting and establish how you want your attendees to interact. Do you prefer everyone to join via video? If it's an interactive type of event with a smaller group of people - video is recommended to make it more personal! If it's more presentation focused and attendees will be listening in, most guests may just be joining in via audio. Perhaps you want people to submit questions and comments in to the chat and you will read? Think this through so you can provide people with guidelines at the beginning of your meeting.
Make it Fun!
Let's be honest, everyone's calendars are full of Zoom meetings and conference call these days. Finding a way to set your meeting a part from their schedule will leave a lasting impression. There are lots of ways to do this depending on the format and purpose of your meeting:
Make it Personal: Do you have a small group? Asks attendees to contribute anecdotes in how their lives have changed now they are WFH. Give a tour of their bookshelf behind them, bring their pet into the meeting etc.
Add a Happy Hour: Dedicate an hour at the end for people to grab a cocktail and socialize together in the virtual meeting room. Let's face it, everyone is ending their days with a cocktail in these times so why not do it together?
Setup Networking: Many video conferences platforms allow for smaller breakout rooms. You can assign attendees to individual rooms that are more conducive for smaller conferences and meeting of new connections.
Have. A. Plan. Even if it is a small meeting - having an Agenda or notes for topics and ideas is key. When having a group of people together virtually, there isn't as much organic conversation as in person so having some leads ready incase crickets is key!
Assume Everyone Knows How to Join
While most people are connecting through virtual meetings, don't assume everyone knows how to join a virtual meeting. Compiling detailed instructions in how to join the meeting, join audio/video etc will ensure people don't have any issues and join on time.
Make It Open!
Be sure to add a password for people to enter the Meeting room to ensure that you don't get crashed by any unwanted parties. Having a registration process that can gather information for guests if you add an open invitations and providing them the password after that is received will keep it a secure and safe Meeting.