However, having a client come at the 11th hour is a reality, and just part of our job as event professionals. Keeping the team in sync, feeling confident and constantly checking stuff off the to-do-list is always vital, and never more so than in times like these.
When there is so much that needs to be done, we know there is a temptation to get ‘straight down to business’. However, whether it is an in-person or Zoom meeting, consciously spending the first couple of minutes with positivity and casual conversation will really boost morale, and strengthen the bond of the team - and having a team that is a ‘united force’ is exactly what you need.
You can check-in with the wellbeing of each of your team members, tell a joke, get them to smile, make some general chit-chat - just whatever feels natural and appropriate.
When people feel appreciated, and that all their hard work is being seen, they feel good and that confidence will spill over into the project. So, sign off meetings with a sincere ‘thank you’ to the whole team, and with a few words of motivation. It will go a long way, and ignite a sense of pride in their work and the feeling of ‘we are in this together’.
When you have to ‘hit the ground running’ with the pre-production of an event, every hour needs to be spent moving the project forward. You need a seasoned team where each member works with initiative, has strong problem solving skills, and knows exactly what they are doing. Pick each member based on their experience, their ability to get stuff done, and who you know can handle some pressure. Which describes every Happily team we build for a Happily event, actually… ;)
Emails are important, of course, and so many will be sent and received during these days leading up to an event. However, don’t make that the only form of written communication that the team has with each other. Emails are not always the place for those quick and informal questions, queries or conversations that need to happen when moving swiftly, and with instant replies.
There is no time for confusion about who is doing what in the team. Be as clear and open as possible about each team member's tasks, and their responsibilities for all to know. A basic spreadsheet of this information can be a great source for people to know exactly what is expected of them, and who to go to for what, if they have a question, or need something.
Crafting ways to keep your audience ‘right there with you’ is key to the success of an event, and one of the best ways to achieve that is to give their brains a break sometimes, and have a little fun. By a ‘break’ we are talking about a short 10 to 20 minute segment in between items (eg. in between panel discussions), or to commence and conclude the day.
There are many ways to add a little ‘break’ to your run of show, and they should be personalized for your virtual summit. The best breaks are entertaining, maybe a little quirky, align with the purpose of your event, and would directly connect with the general interests and profile of your audience.
A guided morning meditation can be a great way to bring your attendees together ahead of a day full of content. Meditations can come in many forms, such as a classic verbally guided meditation, through breathing exercises, or through the sound of singing crystal bowls. We have a menu of talented mindfulness experts and artists that we work with if you are looking to include something like this.
This popular game format is a perfect way to adapt the ‘never have I ever’s to your audience with quirky and specific things that only they could relate to as a collective.
(GIF below) For example, we recently included a ‘Never Have I Ever: Breast Cancer Edition’ for the Young Survival Coalition Summit and it was a big hit!
There are endless options for including a break that is a little higher energy, to get your attendees to their feet and shake out any restlessness. From classic workout classes, belly dancing, salsa, hip hop, or just a moment to dance along to some classic hits, we can bring to the table a teacher or DJ to make it happen.
How about a comedy night to conclude the day? Having a comedians that understand your audience, or perhaps can relate to them, is an absolute bonus.
(GIF below) For example, the YSC Summit had an all-female line-up of comedians, some of whose lives had been touched by breast cancer.
Chances are that your attendees are going to spend hours in the same position for your virtual summit - which is what you want! However, you do not want them to get stiff and sore. Some casual yoga stretches that can be done from the comfort of a desk or chair, will give your summit attendees a moment to ease any body stiffness.
This is a must for animal lovers. Hosted by a pet adoption center, attendees can meet and greet with some animals that need homes, and hear some heartwarming stories from people who are doing amazing work for animals-in-need within the community.
Also, it is a great opportunity for attendees to show off on camera their beloved dogs, cats, and pets (who are probably already hovering around their desk at home as they watch, let’s be honest).
We all enjoy some quirky fun facts and to have our general knowledge challenged. Just like a classic bar trivia night, the questions can be as random or as specific to your audience as you like - just as long as they are also fun, of course. The key is to make it visual with some awesome slides.
On the microsite (GIF below) for YSC’s 2021 Summit, attendees could at any time drop into the YouTube live feed of the Puppy Playroom at Warrior Canine Connection.
It was a huge success!
Quick note: We have a specific blog post about how to integrate an American Sign Language translation into a virtual event that you can read here, as it is a little different.
Language groups will each have their own Zoom link in which the broadcast will be streamed, and their language will be translated onto that stream.
This is ideal for translating a live broadcast into multiple languages and is a good way to bring niche-communities or cultural groups together within your audience and allow them to connect with each other. However, if you prefer to keep your community altogether in order to connect across languages, this may not be the option for you.
You can have the translation captioned live onto the stream. This is an ideal option for translating your event into just 1 other language.
We can integrate an automated translation widget into the streaming platform that can provide captions in 50 languages. Attendees can simply select which language they would like the captions to be provided in.
We used this technology in the Survivor’s Summit 2020 which you can read more about in this case study.
Zoom enables different audio channels to be created for language translations. The human interpreters on the other end then have their voice (and the translation) fed into that audio channel. The attendees can select which available language they would like to hear the event in, with the option to mute the original audio, or to hear it in a lower volume with their chosen language overlayed.
Image: Zoom's Interpretation Feature
It needs to be intentional and thoroughly thought over in order to craft a virtual event that will give attendees all they need to feel engaged with your content, and to feel connected to the experience of the event.
Engagement success can mean a lot of different things to people when it comes to virtual events. It can be the amount of comments people write, the amount of shares of a link, the amount of people that tuned in, or the average duration of the event that people stuck around to watch. If you ask us, the latter is the most important; how long a person stays to watch a virtual event is the most meaningful engagement metric.
Think about it, if a person is watching a virtual event in their home, and they are not enjoying it, there is little stopping them from just shutting the tab and moving on with their day. If you have convinced your attendees to stick around to watch your virtual event, you have already successfully engaged them.
Pro tip: We have put together a really handy tool for calculating the ROI for a virtual event that you might find helpful.
Summary: Holding someone’s attention is the ultimate engagement success.
Scripting an event is something we always do with our Happily virtual events. Looking at the whole event as a story, and storyboarding it as such, will allow you to craft those engaging moments for your audience and to build momentum, with the goal of keeping people watching for longer.
Once you have a detailed ROS (run of show) you can look at it, and identify moments you anticipate that the energy will drop, or people’s attention might drift, and edit the program accordingly. You want your attendees to feel like the event is constantly moving forward, and that there is so much more good stuff to come. It may not always matter how notable a guest speaker might be, the event around them needs to be packaged and teed up properly.
Summary: An event program needs to hold someone’s attention at every turn, just like a talk show.
Most of the time, no one wants to write the first comment in an empty chat box. So it is always a good idea to have people dedicated to adding comments and building some chatter in that space. This could be as simple as asking some of your staff members to create that energy in the chat, to add emojis, to make a basic comment, or agree with other people’s comments. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated sentences or questions. Most people will feel more comfortable contributing in the chat if they see other people doing it first.
Summary: Someone needs to be the one to break the ice and start the conversation.
Finding the right platform that people feel comfortable with talking in, commenting in and engaging in is really important. A digital space that is familiar and comforting to an attendee will naturally allow them to feel more confident to engage and chat, it’s that feeling of ‘I know how this works’. Which is why at Happily we utilize Zoom more than any other platform.
Summary: People will find it easier to engage in a way that is already familiar to them.