Blog post,  internal communications

Pivoting your event online

In Canberra, we have been very lucky. It’s been a year since we were last in lockdown. Optimistically many people probably thought the NSW outbreak wouldn’t come here. But, if you were like me, you have probably spent the last week cancelling face to face appointments and events.

Despite knowing that it was inevitable, it’s still hard to accept that an event you have been planning is now over. For many, there will be a way that you can move your event online. Maybe it’s not the same, maybe it’s not as good. It’s hard to let go of your plan (and your hard work), but it can be done.

Online platforms like zoom, Teams and Skype have come a long way since March 2020. People are now more accepting of the imperfections of online delivery. Many will appreciate still being able to participate. Whether it is an internal event, stakeholder meeting or external presentation, you can make them fun and engaging. So, don’t let go of all hope just yet.

You can’t do the same thing. You can’t just move the same event online (in most instances). You need to come up with a new plan, a new agenda, or new activities. Trust me, when I first tried to move team planning days online, I wanted to use the same activities, the same approach, just through a computer screen. What I learnt is it just doesn’t work. Online delivery is simply different.

When I first had to move to online delivery, I was terrified. I can facilitate face to face, but I didn’t know how to read people online. As a consultant, I didn’t have a choice in 2020 I had to make the transition. What I have learnt is that you need to make the leap, the lockdown or at least hybrid world is what we will be living in for some time to come.

Here are my tips to transition your event online:

  • Change your agenda – Your event may not be able to go for as long as face to face (people don’t have the same attention span). You might split a whole day event into three two-hour sessions. You need new activities or ways to share content. You need a different pace with more time for people to complete activities and more breaks!
  • Be intentionally online – Call out the difference, make fun of them (penalties for being on mute), set interaction rules (hand up to speak), and be clear about how people can participate.
  • Use the tools available to you – Don’t just put up a PowerPoint like you would have in a face to face meeting. Use ‘native’ tools in your platform like chat, breakout rooms or polls. Use online tools like mural, pollev or slido to add some interest and increase engagement.
  • Engage, engage, engage – The best online events are when you are kept on your toes and need to engage in the content because you need to participate. Ask questions, check-in with the audience (Did everyone get that?), get feedback.
  • Ask for help – Get a zoom producer, an online facilitator, or a production manager. You don’t need to do this alone!

Think about the online events you have been to and really enjoyed. What worked and what didn’t? Finally, don’t be afraid to be adventurous try something new (even if it’s scary)!

Need some help? Want to brainstorm your options? Give me a call.

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