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Adding Long Distance Fun to Your Virtual Events

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The global pandemic has been a boon for videoconference providers like Webex, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. If you feel like your work (and even your personal life) is made up of endless Zoom calls, you're not alone. Several months ago, Zoom reported that they were supporting more than 300 million meeting participants every day. That number has probably grown.

Zoom meetings and the like have become a ubiquitous way of conducting business in 2020 — as well as a reason for all of us to dress professionally (from the waist up, at least). The problem is that we're all a little weary of them. So, if you're planning an event for customers, prospects, employees, association members, or any other cohorts, how do you make sure your virtual happening generates actual excitement?

Here are a dozen ideas that can transform an online get-together from ho hum to oh fun:

  1. Drinks
    Host a cocktail hour, wine- or microbrew-tasting. Send a kit with booze, all of the fixings, snacks, and customized barware in advance. Hire a mixologist, sommelier, or cicerone to give your guests a brief, informative lesson.

  2. Movie Night
    Ask everyone for favorite or recommended titles and host a live "watch party." Keep a chat channel open and encourage popcorn, Milk Duds, and other movie theatre snacks.

  3. Portraits
    Hire a caricaturist to create original portraits of your event's attendees. Send them as a follow-up.

  4. Trivia Contest
    Take trivia breaks during your event or plan an entire party around a trivia contest. Offer prizes to individuals or teams that earn the most points.

  5. Private Concert
    Include a musician or small musical group as the intermission in your conference call. A community chorus or school band would appreciate the gig; and it's a great way to add entertainment to an otherwise informational event.

  6. Chair Yoga
    Ask a local yoga instructor to put together a 10-minute set of stress-reducing postures that people can enjoy right from their seat (without a mat or any equipment).

  7. Costumes
    Host a "black tie" affair; ask attendees to wear masks or funny hats; encourage participants to wear a tee shirt that has special meaning (and be prepared to explain). Being just a little silly can increase team spirit.

  8. Bring Your ____ to Work Day
    Pets and offspring have made plenty of unexpected appearances in recent meetings. Why not formalize it? Invite your group to bring along their dogs/cats/guinea pigs/toddlers/houseplants the next time you meet.

  9. Background, Check
    Create custom, branded backgrounds and distribute them in advance. Your attendees may be staying at home, but their Zoom persona can be on the French Riviera (or the moon).

  10. Add Star Power
    For an out of the ordinary attendee experience, invite a celebrity to join your conference call (or prerecord a message at https://www.cameo.com/)

  11. Drawings and Give-Aways
    You may not  have the budget to give everyone a car like Oprah once did, but prizes of any size can be a nice incentive to keep your participants at your event until the rewarding end.

  12. Generate More Ideas
    Take five minutes of your meeting to ask the team to contribute their creative ideas for your next session. You may end up with enough to last well into 2021.

Even with a vaccine on the horizon, video conferences are likely here to stay. Do what you can to make yours something to look forward to.

 

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