- The way businesses operate has drastically changed over the past year, including the way we collaborate and connect with colleagues.
- Remote working arrangements are here to stay, and it's likely that more people will choose to work from home even when things return to somewhat normal.
- But how can you create virtual events that really engage your team, especially when people are a bit Zoom'd out?
- We take a look at some unique virtual event ideas to inspire, entertain and engage your team.
In this new era of event work, we’re forced to reconsider the way we communicate and collaborate professionally.
A period of adjustment allowed us all to rejoice in the miracles of Zoom, Slack and other technology that we were already familiar with. However, we quickly found limitations when putting on virtual events and established best practices.
In-person events cannot be replicated in the digital space. Virtual events are their own unique experience that come with a whole new set of benefits, considerations and solutions.
What Are the Benefits of Virtual Events?
There are two key benefits of virtual events:
- Connect with people all over the world
- Virtual events are more structured
1. Connect with People All Over the World
Digital gatherings have the benefit of being able to connect people from all over the world. You can exist in the same place and time as someone virtually, no matter what country their chair sits in.
This makes considering the time of your event crucial. A meeting at noon in eastern standard time is a great way to accommodate participants in Europe. Alternatively, U.S. based bi-coastal gatherings may favour a meeting in the afternoon.
2. Virtual Events Are More Structured
Successful virtual events are more structured because you cannot rely on organic or spontaneous communication. Consider the format: there’s no way to have a side conversation or to “float around the room.”
Interactions must be intentional, and enjoyable events always consider the structure of the meeting. If you have people you want to communicate with one-on-one, this needs to be considered ahead of time. Luckily, there are many ways to accomplish what you want.
What Makes a Successful Virtual Event?
Like live events, the best virtual events are created with respect to your specific needs and goals. For example, to engage large crowds we see a lot of success with virtual events that provide entertainment. They are engaging because enjoyment doesn’t depend on the communication or participation of all people attending.
When you’re trying to reach hundreds of employees or clients, a shared live experience allows people to connect without the stress of unmuting to speak or even turning on their camera.
Our most popular crowd-pleasers at ReElivate are illusionists, mind readers, musicians and comedians. Each of these hosts has already worked out the details of how to engage the masses.
Delivering a personalized and entertaining experience to a couple of hundred guests is second nature to these entertainers. Leveraging those skills at your large meeting or client appreciation event is an excellent way to increase attendance and keep your audience attentive.
If your goal is to foster close relationships between people who are directly collaborating, or you’re looking to gain the trust of a client we recommend a virtual event that provides a measured level of interaction.
Virtual Event Ideas for Small Businesses
It’s important to consider what’s appropriate for your group size and the preferences of your participants. Below are some ideas to inspire your next online event:
- Trivia or bingo
- Murder mystery
- Virtual escape room or poker
- Shared food and beverage tastings
- Guided experiences
1. Trivia or Bingo (for Big Groups)
Have a larger team of over a dozen? Try a game that’s optimized for collaboration like Trivia or, if you’re up for it, Drag Queen Bingo.
2. Murder Mystery
Using the appeal of screen-based drama to your advantage, you might consider inviting everyone to solve a murder mystery or crime orchestrated by a professional team of actors in real-time.
3. Virtual Escape Room or Poker (for Smaller Groups)
If you’ve got a smaller group, a virtual escape room or a virtual poker table would allow ample time for each person to contribute in turn. You can also gamify “get to know you” meetings to help release people from the burden of unstructured, open-ended sharing of personal information.
On ReElivate there are listings for games hosted by professional comedians that prompt participants with questions about their experiences. It’s the perfect blend between structured time and organic joy.
5. Shared Food and Beverage Tastings
Worthwhile virtual event solutions can provide a physical offering as well. This means everyone who attends is sent the same thing in advance. Some popular examples through ReElivate are wine, chocolate, whiskey, tequila, cheese or caviar tastings. These allow people who are apart to physically experience the same thing with one another, at the same time.
Engaging the senses of your participants is a powerful tool. Taste is an attractive option because you can simultaneously treat your guests, but the same principle applies to things you might not have considered like scent or touch.
6. Guided Experiences
Options like guided scent mediation or a ceramics experience are highly reviewed. These experiences are praised because they were a reprieve from work-focused chat. Yet, they still require that guests focus on a collective goal together.
This is a powerful step forward in team bonding that also brings a moment of genuine relief and joy. Those aren’t the only suitable choices. Building terrariums, knitting, making dumplings - there’s no shortage of collective activities that provide connection and entertainment.
Pre-selected experiences and activities are also highly engaging. Enticing or treating your guests with an activity or entertainment before and after you deliver the core information is a great way to get people in the Zoom room and keep them there.
Opening up with a cocktail hour might not be an option anymore but you can open up with a wine tasting. Closing with a social chat hour so people can mingle can’t happen on Zoom, without everyone else suffering through a conversation dominated by a few people.
However, you can invite people to spend meaningful time together enjoying a comedy show or playing a short game.
Good virtual event solutions will focus on leveraging the best aspects of digital communication instead of trying to force the basics of in-person events into this new format. With the help of virtual event marketplaces like ReElivate, specialized solutions are easy to find and book.
Preparation remains as important as ever, but the nature of the prep has changed. Our new focus is on accommodating people in different locations and providing meaningful ways for people to connect remotely. Luckily, there’s a rapidly expanding playbook for engagement at any level.
ReElivate is a virtual experience marketplace for corporate clients. Jon Conelias, CEO of ReElivate has been a CFO and Operator of marketplace companies focused on both B2B and B2C channels for the past 15 years.
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