The world is moving online, and while we believe that eventually people’s hunger for social events will come back in spades, there is no doubt that the way we gather is going to see changes. The Corporate Event world is already pushing many of these changes with fully virtual events seemingly the only option until at least the end of 2020. So how do we navigate these changes, and what have we learned so far? Here are 11 Tips and Tricks to help you out:
1. Hire an Experienced and Charismatic Moderator
We have all been on those Zoom calls where people either talk over each other, or sit in silence worried about when it is their turn to talk. Business meetings can be easier as they come with an agenda and hierarchy, but in a social setting it can quickly become chaos. Adding an experienced and charismatic moderator to engage and direct people during your event changes the game right away.
2. Master the Technical Side of your Virtual Event
Nothing kills a mood like bad sound or technical issues. As the organizer of the event it is on you to ensure that the leads on the event are tested and ready to go. Double, triple check everything. STRONG WIFI is a must!!
3. Start Your Event with Music
Zoom will pick up music directly from the software on your laptop. So start events with music as people join. If you can, add a DJ that will be mixing and grooving and welcoming people as they join. This is a much different experience than awkwardly joining a muted call, or joining a meeting and feeling like you are interrupting an ongoing conversation. Make sure you test the sound in advance and try to avoid playing music through a smart speaker in your house and hope that it sounds good when picked up by your laptop’s microphone.
4. Acknowledge Technical Issues and don’t be Embarrassed
Yes, there will be technical issues or someone’s dog or kid may come and join the party at the wrong moment. Don’t turn red and pretend it is not happening. Acknowledge it and make it part of the fun. If there is a technical issue during an important speech or presentation, then the moderator should interrupt, rewind, and get it done right.
5. Plan a Close Out
Every Zoom call ends with people hovering over the “Leave Button” and saying goodbye 10 times. Plan an exit and make it fun.
6. Mute All, Unmute and Spotlight are your Best Friends
If you're doing a virtual event, you are basically producing a TV Show. So make sure you use all the tools you have available to make it an amazing viewing experience for everyone involved.
7. Co-Hosts are invaluable
If you are leading or moderating the event, you need to focus on your guests and not be searching through the participant list to spotlight the next speaker. Adding 1 or multiple co-hosts and assigning roles and duties makes for a much smoother process.
8. Streaming + Music
If you want to steam your meeting or event to Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or YouTube, you are going to run into trouble when you want to add music. There is no way around this. If you try to get clearance for music it is expensive, and you still are not going to get music that people will be familiar with. The only way around this is to have your DJ (or whoever is providing music) stick to remixes, speed or slow down the music, alter the pitch of the music, or make sure the majority of the time you are talking over the music or playing small snippets. Even with these steps you can’t guarantee that the stream will not get interrupted.
9. Ice Breakers
All good moderators should come to the call with something to smash through the initial frostiness.
Social events have always been drawn to having a theme, and this works just as well online. Give your event a fun theme and see how people arrive in costume, or hunt for the best backdrop to have ready to go.
People are happier and more relaxed when they have something tasty in front of them. So if it is happy hour, make sure you tell participants to bring a drink along, or bring in alcohol tasting as part of the event. If it is not that kind of event, then make it a coffee, cookie, or cheese and cracker and encourage everyone to come along with their homemade treats.