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COVID-19: How to use digital media to replace your event

Gregory Swanson

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Internal events are often very elaborate and expensive activities. However, time and time again, we have seen those events be successful in teaching teams about new products, driving motivation, or just having some fun with colleagues that they rarely see face-to-face. An excellent internal event will give your team the feeling that they are working for the right company.

COVID-19 has changed that. Many companies that had planned an event have been forced to cancel. It does not look like those types of events will not return anytime soon.

So, let’s say that you have a new strategy that you would like to implement, want to launch new products, or simply want to give staff that feeling that they are still valuable. What do you do? How can you remotely pull off something new by using electronic channels instead of in-person meetings?

The following are some steps that you can take to make it a success.

Be clear about what you want to achieve

If you want to have an online event, just to have an event, your team will feel it. In the worst case, they may think that it was a waste of time and effort.

However, if you want to bring remote people into the fold, launch a product, or change a strategy, you can make it an online success.

Be clear, upfront, what you want to achieve. Not only does it make planning the event more manageable, but you also have a better chance to make positive changes that you need to make.

Do not do it at once - Plan breaking up the event into small bites

The most successful events are planned from the perspective of the participant. Online events are no different. You should realize that your team is sitting at home, watching everything from a screen. Not exactly engaging.

To make an impact on the participants, you should get some interaction and personal engagement from the participants. Since it is nearly impossible to get engagement with dozens or even hundreds of people in an online meeting, you should break your event down into smaller bites, over time, to have sub-groups that can interact with each other.

The smaller meetings could take on more of a workshop format. Each workshop could have a deliverable that feeds into the online event later.

As for the event, plan the build-up of the event into steps. Have your participants discuss how they can implement a new plan or get their feedback on a new idea before the event in smaller meetings. Use the event to launch “their plan”. They own the plan.

The more engagement that you have building to the event, the more ownership your team will have in implementing your objective.

Example of preparation meetings for an event
Example of bite-sized meeting for event preparation

Use the right platform for interaction and engagement

As mentioned, the key is engagement, and the difficulty of getting engagement is high.

In the smaller pre-meetings, consider different platforms than your typical online meeting or conference calls. You can also use whiteboard applications to capture new innovative concepts. Also, run surveys leading up to the meeting.

By breaking your objective into steps, then using the right media to generate engagement in separate, smaller meetings, you can use the results of the smaller pre-meetings in the event. If they have engaged beforehand, your team  will be invested in the outcome.

See our post on digital platforms.

Follow up

Once the event is finished, update your team on the progress in implementing the results of the event. You can do this with a short video to add a personal touch. In those communications, recognize those who are performing well, provide the next steps, and the learnings from ongoing feedback.

By planning your event well, and driving for engagement before the event, and follow up on the results, you can make an online event very productive for you and your team.

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