Whether it be a team get together, a virtual christmas party or just an end of week meet up online, there are various things that you can do to ensure that it is successful one. 
 
I’m sure we have all been on meetings where attendance is low, the audience aren’t engaged and there is a lack of energy and enthusiasm from many members of the group. We all want our time online to be productive, engaging, fun and memorable - so what can we do to ensure that this happens? 
 
Here are my top five tips for a successful virtual get together … 
 
1. Planning 
 
Have an agenda - this may seem over the top for just a team get together or weekly catch up, but online meetings can so easily just drift on with no purpose and this just gets boring for all concerned. Someone needs to be designated as the meeting host - someone to keep everything flowing and ensure that all the guests are catered for. It is too easy on online platforms for one or two people to dominate conversations and leave others feeling left out - I liken the online platform conversations to the book The Lord of the Flies - "who has the conch?" In other words, if one person is talking without break, often everyone else if forced to listen to them and are unable to get a word in edgeways. This is where an effective host can be brilliant. So, it helps if the host is conversant with the platform you are using, and has a certain authority within the group - that doesn’t mean to say that it has to be one of the bosses running the meeting, but it should be someone that everyone can respect as being the person in charge of the meeting. 
 
2. Entertainment (focal point) 
 
A meeting without a focal point, especially if it is an informal meeting (Christmas get together for example) can be really boring. Sitting around in your own homes sharing a drink and chatting online just isn’t the same as going down the pub and conversations dry up. Having a focal point at some point during the meeting can really help to re-energise it and give people something to talk about. There are plenty of entertainment and team building options out there - although I must say that I think a Virtual Mindreading Show is definitely the best option! You can find out all about that here. Also consider some sort of interactive activity - what about a talent show with some of the staff taking part? Great fun and you can always book a professional to finish off the event - they could even judge the show and award a prize for the best entrant! 
3. The Platform 
This is something that can make a huge difference to the meeting - what platform are you using? I have to say straight away that I am a huge fan of Zoom. It has great functionality for video conferencing and is relatively cheap- you can even hold meetings for up to 1000 people now and the security has been improved and shouldn’t be an issue. They are constantly upgrading it and in their most recent upgrade they have introduced a lovely idea with regard to break out rooms. For the uninitiated, in Zoom you can have break out rooms which you can send people to, enabling them to talk in small groups. This is great if you are running a quiz as each team can have their own rooms to brainstorm in. But it has wider applications too. With the latest upgrade, the attendees can choose which room to go in themselves. So, at one part of the meeting you could simply set up a large number of rooms and let people go into whichever one they want to have a chat to the people there (you can see who is which room). The only thing the host would have to be aware of is anyone left in a room on their own and manage that. There is another possibility with this option though and that is in regard to entertainment… 
 
You could set up four rooms for example with a mindreader in one (yours truly of course), a tarot reader in another, a caricaturist in another and perhaps a yoga instructor in another. Now people have the option which room to go in and they could even pop into several rooms during the course of the meeting. This is great when you have a team with various different entertainment options being put forward - now you can please everyone! 
 
If you use a different platform which you have found to be brilliant, please let me know. 
4. Give Aways 
For a client event or a Christmas party, it is really nice to be able to send your attendees something that they can use during the online event. This could be a small hamper or cocktail making kit or popcorn if you are having a virtual film evening. What about some modelling balloons and get a balloon modeller into the meeting to give a practical demonstration on how to make a balloon animal? If you are having a virtual cookery session you could send out the ingredients. Or what about a cartoon drawing teach in where you supply the pencils and paper (and perhaps an instruction book for afterwards) and you have a guest caricaturist come in a show everyone how to draw cartoons - you could even have a competition to see who could draw the best caricature of the boss! 
5. Video On 
Finally, do your best to ensure that everyone has their video on. It is really difficult to engage with someone on an online call if you can’t see them - you don’t even know if they are even there! I think you have to make everyone aware that you are not going to be videoing the meeting, and often just warning everyone in advance that they need to enable their video is normally sufficient and much easier than continually having to ask them during the meeting. 
 
I hope these tips have been useful and if you have any other tips or thoughts on running virtual events, please do let me know. 
 
Please feel free to share 
 
Stay safe 
 
Alex 
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