Categories
virtual events

8 Best Practices For a Hybrid Industry Conference and Trade Show [via Social hour]

This post originally appeared on the Social hour blog.

Planning a hybrid event can be challenging for many teams, especially when blending the in-person and remote attendee experiences. Do any of these common hybrid events planning questions sound familiar to you?

  • Should a hybrid event prioritize the in-person audience or remote attendees? 
  • How can attendees of either type network and engage with the other? 
  • Will my exhibitors find value in a hybrid event?

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to hosting an incredible hybrid event, we believe the best way to create a cohesive and engaging experience is to prioritize the virtual experience and craft a complementary in-person event that blends seamlessly with the virtual event platform. 

We know this may be a counter-intuitive approach—”but the in-person experience should always come first!”—and it is a tall order to fill. But the brands that experiment with and perfect virtual and hybrid experiences will be best set for success in the future of events and community engagement.

To help you plan your next hybrid event, we’ve gathered these best practices to ensure you create an outstanding attendee experience, regardless of how they choose to join. 

8 Ways To Improve The Hybrid Event Attendee Experience

As more teams experiment with their hybrid event strategies, we can use their learnings to improve our approaches based on what worked well (or not so well). 

After researching recent virtual and hybrid events like Surf Expo, Essence Festival of Culture, CXEnergy 2021 Virtual Conference, and countless others, here are eight ways you can build a seamless event experience for all of your hybrid event attendees:

Broadcast all sessions via live stream with a unified commentary feed. 

All of your event sessions will likely involve a mix of in-person and remote-based attendees unless you host exclusive experiences only for your in-person attendees. To present a cohesive session experience, broadcast all sessions via live stream to virtual attendees, and project a commentary feed alongside your stage that includes thoughts from all attendees, regardless of location. 

If streaming all the conference content live is not feasible, consider pre-recording all breakout sessions, and having the speaker host a watch party on-site, followed by live-streamed Q&A sessions.

Stream your in-person attendees alongside sessions. 

It may sound strange at first, but we recommend live-streaming your in-person audience alongside your sessions. Why? Because the full scope of your event and its energy is difficult to absorb through a presenter-only one-way stream. 

You can accomplish this best practice with a digital or hybrid event platform that supports multiple simultaneous streams. If possible, consider streaming your remote attendees on a screen to your in-person audience, too, so everyone can realize just how many people are at your event. 

Don’t forget lunch. 

Provide a few lunch options for your in-person and remote attendees and partner with a nationwide delivery app partner to deliver meals to your virtual attendees’ homes. In addition, create spaces during the lunch break so in-person and remote attendees can easily chat and connect. 

Enlist moderators and help them coordinate.

Assign separate moderators to oversee your virtual and in-person attendees during sessions. Gather questions from both groups through your dedicated event messaging platform or audience polls, and then aggregate these questions into a shared document with all moderators. Ideally, you will have at least one moderator gathering questions for both groups each session and an additional moderator solely focused on reviewing/blending the two sets of questions and presenting them to the session host or participants. 

Encourage attendees to pre-submit questions. 

The goal for any event is to host crowd-pleasing sessions. As soon as your attendees hear about your event schedule, they should be excited about the discussion and will likely start to think about their own questions or goals for each session. So why should they have to wait to start engaging? Enable attendees to submit questions through your trade show app ahead of time. 

In addition to getting the buzz started about your event, this will help moderators set initial questions for sessions, can help refine conference presentations (if attendee questions are provided to the speaker ahead of time), and could provide ongoing content opportunities for your team. If a session has many unanswered questions, consider hosting a webinar or publishing an e-book or a series of blog posts to address your attendee needs.

Swag bags for everyone. 

Prepare swag bags for your in-person attendees to pick up at registration and mail similar bags to all virtual attendees. Remember that your attendees want useful items that help them day-to-day or provide instant relief at the event. Most trade show attendees have amassed a seemingly endless stock of low-quality pens, stress balls, and other items that quickly are thrown into a drawer once the event is over. Instead, give them something on-brand that they will actually use, like a USB drive, portable charger, or mints. 

Replicate your trade show floor online. 

Once you have all your other technology in place to enable attendee’s engagement, you can consider building a 3D rendering of your exhibition hall that allows virtual attendees to see displays and setups. You can also spotlight sponsored booths for your attendees to visit and interact with, and use a remote platform that helps attendees easily talk to and swap contact info with exhibitors. Some events have gamified this experience, offering prizes and giveaways to attendees who visit booths, or hosting a scavenger hunt to encourage more booth engagement. Consider adding an online-only exhibitor row to accommodate past exhibitors under travel restrictions and encourage in-person attendees to participate in the online experience.

Widen your exhibitor net but stay local. 

Almost all event exhibitors (96%) indicated that their marketing budgets are decreasing or staying the same in 2021, despite needing to support both in-person and digital versions of many events. Event planners can work around this by conducting a thorough exhibitor search within a drivable distance from their event venue. Although some legacy exhibitors may drop out due to the inability to travel, eager exhibitors in the local area can fill those slots. 

Select The Best Event Technology For an Exceptional Hybrid Event Experience

The above best practices are just a handful of current considerations for hosting a successful hybrid event. Remember to survey your community to understand what they hope to gain from a hybrid event experience and use those findings to build the optimal event for your unique audience. 

A common thread through all of these best practices is that your chosen hybrid event platform can easily make or break the attendee experience. You need a platform that can seamlessly connect your remote and in-person attendees to make them feel like the stars of the show. Learn how Social hour can make this your hybrid event reality

Categories
virtual events

Bridging the Experience Gap: How to Build Hybrid Events That Excite and Engage [via Social hour]

There is a significant difference between hosting or attending an in-person event versus its virtual equivalent. This came into sharp focus for event planners and marketers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as we had to very quickly adapt experiences to an online-only audience. While many of us are looking forward to the return to live events, our event attendees have made it clear that the way of the future is hybrid events. 

Bridging the gap between live and virtual attendee experience means building a hybrid experience that engages both audiences with equal access to opportunities for connection. In order to build these events, we must think differently about event planning from the ground up. 

It’s been said before and it bears repeating: a quality hybrid experience cannot simply be a live event with an online experience bolted on. To blend the two experiences meaningfully, you must plan each aspect of your event around both experiences, or build a quality online event and flow your live event around it. 

To understand how to create a high-quality hybrid event, we need to deeply explore the differences between live and online events and identify how hybrid event planning can create the perfect bridge to merge them. 

Online Versus In-Person Attention Spans

One big advantage of live events is they are mostly a captive, fully engaged audience. They are on-site, immersed in the physical conference space, surrounded by other attendees. They are buffered from whatever is waiting for them at home or the office. The flip side of this is that if an emergency arises that they must attend to in-person, they must leave the event, and risk not returning at all. 

Online attendees, however, are surrounded by the distractions of home or the office, and are more likely to have a split focus throughout the event. While this can be challenging, being a virtual attendee also means it is easier to dip in and out of the event as needed, in order to address external needs. 

Hybrid Events Can Give Attendees the Best of Both Worlds

When crafting a hybrid event, we want to build out an immersive experience for both types of attendees, while also making it easy to come and go as needed. We want attendees excited and focused on the event programming while making it seamless to step away and return as needed.

There are several ways to help keep your audiences drawn in. Effective use of social media to build an online community can help create ongoing engagement and prevent momentary distractions from turning into complete disengagement. Use of virtual lobbies and common spaces to keep your virtual audiences “on-site” between sessions and engaging with content and other attendees is also key. 

Virtual vs. Live Networking 

A major challenge for virtual events is creating easy and fun opportunities for networking. Live event attendees have the advantage of casual chance meetings in hallways while moving about the event space or during scheduled social hours and networking events. 

For virtual attendees, it is critical to choose an event technology platform that makes networking opportunities easy, and provides a way to integrate virtual and live networking. When surveyed, 39% of respondents who had attended a hybrid event expressed feeling left out. Bridging the networking gap is a critical way to overcome this challenge and keep your virtual attendees engaged and feeling connected. 

How to Craft a Hybrid Networking Experience

Employing several methods to improve networking opportunities will help your hybrid event shine. This is another instance where effective use of social media to build and maintain online communities can be helpful — this helps people connect before, during, and after your event. 

Both live and virtual attendees should have badges that provide quick, key details about themselves. Then build a bridge that links how virtual and live attendees can access information about each other. For example, all attendees should have an online profile that is completed ahead of the event. It should be easy for live attendees to point others to their profile (example: a QR code on their event badge that can be scanned with the event app), while virtual attendees’ avatars can contain similar key info and a prominent link to their profile. 

Creating and curating dedicated hybrid networking spaces is critical. As mentioned previously, live attendees have easy access to other attendees. For online attendees, create virtual lobbies and conversation spaces that create the same chance meetings. Set up tables and spaces that draw people into conversations using ice breaker questions, shared interests, or even casual games. By allowing virtual attendees to see who is in the room at large and seek out conversations, they will feel much more included and engaged with your event. 

Differences Between Live and Virtual Agenda Management

One of the biggest challenges of hosting any event is maintaining the agenda and helping people know where they should be, and when. For live events, there are many opportunities to get this right through the distribution of printed schedules, appropriate signage, and audio announcements that help attendees know where they need to be. 

For online participants, this can be a much poorer experience. Having to manually create events on your calendar risks getting key details and times wrong. Connecting to a session at the wrong time and receiving confusing messaging (for example, “this session has not yet started” when the session has ended) can be frustrating and disheartening. On the positive side, if virtual events have intuitive navigation, attendees can change locations with just a click — faster than live attendees could move to a new location.

One Digital Master Agenda to Rule Them All

One of the best ways to provide a stellar experience is to make it easy to create a custom digital agenda that seamlessly imports into the attendee’s calendar. If you are planning to use a custom app for your event, consider making an agenda builder with push notifications a built-in function. This can be helpful for all participants, especially at large events spread out over a large conference center. 

When an attendee is unable to make it a desired session, have the virtual replay, resources, and other key information easily accessible through the agenda when connecting to the online session space to make the experience better for everyone who needs to be in two places at once.

Virtual Audience Participation Largely a Live Event Afterthought

A huge factor in how integrated your virtual audience feels hinges on how you manage interactions between a speaker or panel, and the in-person versus virtual audiences. Handling this poorly can result in virtual attendees feeling hidden behind the screen and not a real part of the event. Frequently, speakers are unable to easily see and respond to incoming questions from online participants, which leads to a poor experience for everyone. 

For the best interactive experience for both live and virtual breakout session attendees, assign a moderator dedicated to monitoring and representing online comments and questions. Consider a setup where virtual attendees can ask their questions live using a video interface that allows the speaker (or even the live audience) to see them. Give dedicated time to both the in-person and virtual audiences for the Q&A. And don’t forget to provide opportunities for the two to engage with each other, as well as with the speaker or panel, throughout the session. 

The Trade Show Floor Is More Than Just a Collateral Library

Trade shows and conferences with a vendor showroom present a special challenge for hybrid events. This takes getting creative to offer a virtual experience that brings that same sense of fun and engagement that walking the floor brings.

When you are live at an event, you get the thrill of seeing the displays, meeting the people, and collecting fun swag as you walk the trade show floor. And of course, the showroom is a classic place for networking and chance meetings. 

Incorporate Your Event’s Networking Tools to Deliver an Interactive Virtual Trade Show Experience

Too often, virtual trade shows consist of a static menu of logos that lead to a document library, and possibly a calendar link to set up a 1:1 meeting. Replicating the live trade show experience virtually requires more than a simple vendor list and/or a static website interface. 

You need to get innovative to meet attendee and exhibitor trade show goals. Consider a 3D interactive model of the trade show floor. Imagine being able to hover over a virtual booth and getting a popup that shows company or product info, videos, and even a way to send messages or questions to the booth staff. Up the ante with the ability to see what attendees are currently visiting the same booth. Create exhibitor-hosted birds-of-a-feather networking table talks or group attendee virtual office hours to provide casual opportunities for networking and interaction. 

Start Building Better Hybrid Events

It takes creative energy and modern event management technology to build out exceptional hybrid events. It cannot be overstated that our approach to hybrid event planning means completely rethinking what it means to blend and bridge these two disparate experiences into one cohesive and engaging event. With the right planning, technology, and inclusive approach, your hybrid events will achieve further reach and superior engagement of your entire audience.

Are you ready to build innovative and exciting hybrid events? Check out socialhour.com.

Categories
remote work

Data Roundup: Employers Want People Back In The Office, But Workers Say ‘Pass’

After more than 15 months of almost exclusively remote-based work, many companies intend to bring their workers back to the office this September. However, the stakes are high for brands if they cannot appropriately meet their worker’s needs given a growing movement in the U.S.: The Great Resignation

As we saw from employee surveys nearly a year into the pandemic, more than half of workers wanted remote-based work to be their primary way of working moving forward. We even questioned if it was time to say goodbye to the corporate office forever

Now, as companies finally prepare their return to the office, employees are standing their ground and may even quit their job to preserve their work-life balance. But not all employers are willing to adopt a hybrid-first workplace model. 

Let’s explore the latest data around employer and employee expectations for the future of work to understand where the disconnect is.

Employees View Workplace Flexibility As Essential

It should be no surprise that workers are hesitant to return to the “old way” of work. However, given the right tools, employees are just as productive at home and can more effectively balance their work and personal needs.

Studies up through July 2021 reinforce the employee demand to maintain flexible work policies:

These surveys show that employees enjoy a range of benefits from workplace flexibility, including the freedom to set their preferred office hours, the ability to create a personal, distraction-free workspace, and relaxed workplace attire requirements. 

To further increase their workplace satisfaction, workers hope to re-imagine how productivity is measured, with 86% of professionals surveyed by Citrix preferring to work for a company that prioritizes outcomes over output.

Employers Split On Hybrid And In-Person Models

Despite the clear enthusiasm from workers for remote-friendly working policies, a portion of companies would prefer to return to predominately in-person work:

Already, this data suggests that employer and employee desires are misaligned. But perhaps the most alarming of the data is that only 8% of C-suite and HR leaders expect their employees to quit once COVID restrictions are fully lifted. 25% believe that no one will quit. 

Bridging the Future of Work Divide

As seen by these recent studies, a company’s hybrid working arrangements (or lack thereof) will be a significant factor for employees as they decide whether to join in The Great Resignation. 

Companies simply cannot afford to neglect their employee needs when planning a return to the office. Employees are not bluffing, and they will leave your company in search of more flexible work if it is a priority for them.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for teams to plan a hybrid work arrangement, but it starts with a simple conversation. Talk with each of your team members. Seek to understand their preferences for the future of work. And use your actual team feedback to build your plan, instead of relying on executive orders and trusting unfounded assumptions.

The Role Of Technology in Hybrid Work

Regardless of the exact breakdown between in-person and remote-based work at a company, one thing is clear: employees need robust, standardized, and integrated virtual tools that help them collaborate with their colleagues, no matter where they’re based. 

Learn more about how the Frameable suite of collaboration tools was built to support a healthy remote and hybrid working team culture, with intuitive features that can increase productivity and enhance collaboration no matter where employees are located.

Categories
virtual events

4 Ways To Invite Alumni To Your Virtual College Class Reunion [via Social hour]

This post originally appeared on the Social hour blog.

Have you been planning your virtual college class reunion? It can be easy for your reunion planning committee to get wrapped up in all the details—from setting goals for your event, creating an exciting schedule filled with activities and fun networking opportunities, and finding a platform to meet these needs.

But if you spend all your time planning those above areas, your event can still fall short if you neglect one key area: promotion.

It’s hard to forget that your reunion is just around the corner when you’re part of the planning committee. But your alumni need ample notice in a few different places to maximize their likelihood of attending and ensure they have a fulfilling reunion experience.

 Let’s explore the best practices for promoting your upcoming virtual college class reunion. 

Create A Virtual Class Reunion Hub

Before you start promoting your online college class reunion, create a central location for your alumni to access key information about the event. Then, regularly update this hub as new details emerge and the reunion gets closer. 

If multiple communications hubs pop up as you plan and promote your event, your alumni will likely become confused about where to receive the most up-to-date information. Instead, maintain one core page—be it a dedicated website, an event page on an existing alumni site, private social media group, etc.—that links out to all the alumni resources for the reunion.

Your virtual class reunion hub should, at a minimum, include these details:

  • Date, time, and location of the reunion
  • How to register or RSVP for the reunion, including any fees
  • A detailed schedule of events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Contact information for more details
  • Asks/considerations for guests
  • Answers to frequently asked questions, like the ideal attire
  • Technology troubleshooting guides

4 Ways To Promote Your Virtual College Class Reunion

It’s not enough to send a single invite to your alumni and expect your registrations to skyrocket. Your reunion planning committee needs to send multiple invitations and reminders through various channels to maximize your RSVP count. 

Partner with your alumni association to source contact details for your alumni. Use this initial list to start your outreach, but you will need to expand this list and your outreach strategy to get in front of more alumni.

Consider a combination of these four primary ways to reach your potential college class reunion attendees:

Digital or Physical Invitations

Share a digital or physical invitation to start promoting your virtual reunion. A direct invitation is a perfect way to announce the event, and these invitations should guide your alumni to your class reunion hub.

Ideally, start inviting alumni up to a year before your event. This leaves ample time for your invitations to navigate the mail system and eventually reach your invitee. However, digital invitations are a much more direct (and potentially trackable) way to invite your alumni.

Consider a combination of both print and digital invitations if your time and budget allow.

Email Newsletter

Create an email newsletter to keep your alumni up to date on the latest plans for your college reunion. Start light with the number of your messages, ideally sending just one update every one or two months when you are a year out from the event. Then, as the reunion gets closer, you can send weekly or more frequent emails as needed.

Use the email newsletter to drum up excitement for the reunion, encourage donations to the university, and ultimately drive more attendance.

A few ideas for what to include in a virtual college reunion email newsletter include:

  • Fun photos from your graduating year, presented in a fun trivia style, such as, “can you guess what this is?”
  • Spotlight notable alumni who will attend the reunion, ideally with a quote about why they are excited to attend
  • Promote speakers or sessions at your reunion
  • Discuss the networking opportunities available to your alumni at the reunion

Social Media

Social media channels will widen your net of invitees. There are a few ways to maximize the effectiveness of your social media promotion:

  • Reunion event page. Invite your former classmates to an event page on Facebook or LinkedIn. Ensure that a member of your communications and marketing committee monitors these event pages for questions or comments from your prospective attendees.
  • Hashtag. Create a hashtag to accompany your reunion posts. This will help your alumni sort through information about the event and connect with others who are attending.
  • Direct messages. Social media’s “social” aspect is vital for getting people excited about your online reunion experience. Have each member of your planning committee directly message any of their friends and former classmates, and encourage those friends to invite their friends. 
  • Paid posts. Promote your virtual college reunion with sponsored posts that will directly target members of your alumni network. Most social media channels offer cost-effective promotion that can greatly boost the reach of your event’s promotions. 

Phone a Friend

This strategy will be necessary if your alumni network is not particularly active on social media channels. However, it will require a more significant time investment. Directly call alumni that you have not been able to reach by other means, and quickly let them know about the reunion and where they can get more information.

It’s important to respect your alumni’s time when calling. Leave a clear and concise voicemail if you cannot reach them live, and only call them up to three times leading up to your event, ideally one time a month.

Delight Your Alumni Network For Reunions to Come

As your team continues promoting your reunion, tap into your alumni network to refine and improve your reunion experience. Share short surveys and polls to gauge what your alumni hope to gain from the experience, and use this information to put the finishing touches on your planning. 

By directly engaging your alumni ahead of your event, they’re more likely to be excited about your event—and possibly return for your next reunion.

But promotion is just one part of hosting a successful online college reunion. Learn more about how to plan a virtual college reunion event that your alumni will love. And once you’re ready to get started, see how Social hour can help you make it an event to remember.

Categories
virtual events

How Your Online College Reunion Goals Should Adapt To New Alumni Needs [via Social hour]

This post originally appeared on the Social hour blog.

Are you hosting an upcoming college reunion? Although it is natural to default your planning to a traditional in-person reunion experience, there are several advantages to hosting an online event experience. But how can you tell which event style will be best for your alumni?

To help plan your college class reunion, let’s explore the pros and cons of virtual event experiences and in-person event experiences, and how your audience needs should shape your reunion agenda and activities

How Is A Virtual College Reunion Different From An In-Person Reunion?

Virtual college reunions provide many of the same benefits and possibilities as an in-person reunion without the costly hurdles of travel for your alumni. 

You can replicate most aspects of an in-person college reunion online using on-demand or live-streamed videos and a combination of open networking rooms and channels for your alumni to mix and mingle. 

At a high level, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of college reunion:

Virtual College Class ReunionsIn-Person College Class Reunions
ProsNo travel hurdles for attendees

Potential cost advantages for reunion organizers

The online format makes it easier to track engagement and essential information for future reunions

Recorded sessions can be accessed and replayed after your reunion is over, serving as promotional materials for future reunions
There is an innate appeal and excitement with in-person gatherings and reunions

The local community receives a business boost thanks to the alumni who travel to the reunion

Group activities and happy hours are easier to plan when everyone is in the same location
ConsSome attendees may not be tech-savvy and have difficulty navigating your event experience

The local community receives no boost in business
Travel needs and costs could detract alumni from attending, limiting the size and diversity of your group

In-person events require a significant time commitment and lock your attendees into the experience

Goals For College Class Reunions By Audience

When planning a college class reunion and deciding whether to offer a virtual or online event, it’s important to consider the different audiences and their respective goals for the reunion. Your alumni are certainly a priority audience, but this group is filled with unique individuals that each have their own hopes for the event. Then there is also the greater university ecosystem that relies on reunions to fulfill other needs.

Alumni Goals for College Reunions Evolve Over Time

Your alumni will have a range of hopes and goals for attending your college reunions, and these needs will change depending on if you are hosting a five-year, ten-year, or 15+-year reunion.

Generally, your alumni will attend the reunion to:

  • Reconnect with old friends
  • Relive the excitement of college days
  • Forge new professional connections or partnerships
  • Show their family their alma mater
  • Assess whether your college is a good fit for their children or other loved ones to attend

Your reunion planning committee will need to build an agenda that provides ample open networking space, as well as more structured talks and sessions to appeal to these diverse goals.

According to information from Stanford University and Harvard University, you can expect reunions shortly after college to be most popular, with a sharp dip in attendance at the 15-year celebration, followed by a pickup from the 25th reunion onward. The earlier reunions are often characterized by alumni insecurities about their work and life; it is often best to prioritize open networking opportunities and high-energy games and activities for these events. As your alumni become more comfortable with their lives, they are ready to engage in more intellectual-focused topics and presentations (typically around the 15-year reunion mark). 

University Goals For Class Reunions

The second most important audience for your virtual class reunion is the university, or, specifically, its current leadership, faculty, and students.

Reunions are an important opportunity to reconnect alumni with their alma mater and instill a sense of pride in their university. Ideally, college class reunions will encourage alumni to donate to their university, helping to sustain its work and support future generations of students. 

Actively partner with members of your alumni association to ensure that the university’s fundraising goals and other needs are accounted for during your virtual reunion planning. 

Survey Your Reunion Attendees To Understand Their Needs

The best way to build a fulfilling virtual reunion agenda is to directly ask your alumni and leadership of your university what they hope to gain from the reunion experience. Employ a mix of short survey questions and targeted 1:1 conversations to dive into the full range of considerations for the reunion. We share a few questions to consider in our college reunion planning overview.

The Future Of College Reunions Is Online

With your audience survey results analyzed, your reunion planning committee is better prepared to deliver a fulfilling reunion experience for your various audiences. Track how your alumni needs change as you advance in your reunion years and adjust your strategy to continue delivering an outstanding reunion for everyone involved.

Even as more communities reopen and resume in-person activities, we expect virtual college reunions will remain popular for their ease of access and unrivaled conveniences for attendees—especially as committees show just how impressive an online college class reunion experience can be.

Learn more about how Social hour can help you host an incredible virtual alumni reunion event

Categories
virtual events

How To Form A Successful College Class Reunion Planning Committee [via Social hour]

This post originally appeared on the Social hour blog.

Are you excited to reconnect with your alma mater and its alumni for an upcoming college class reunion? 

Many colleges and universities are now hosting reunion celebrations online, which means friends and classmates can connect easier than before—providing an unrivaled opportunity to strengthen your alumni network and bolster their relationship with your university. However, while many of the same traditional reunion activities can occur during a virtual reunion, there are a few virtual reunion planning differences to address.

If you’re a part of your university’s online reunion planning committee or just getting started organizing that committee, let’s explore how to structure your virtual college reunion planning team for success. We’ll explain the ideal college reunion planning committee structure, roles and responsibilities for each member, and an ideal timeline to plan your event with ease. 

Partner With Your Alumni Association

Before making any plans for your upcoming college class reunion, contact your university’s alumni association to check if there is already a planning committee in place that you can join. 

Your alumni association should also have resources and guides to help streamline your planning. Work with them to understand any available funds to support the event, attendance of past reunions, ways to fundraise for a class reunion, an ideal timeline for planning your college class reunion, and any other historical information that can inform your planning. 

Even if your alumni association already has a team ready to plan and support the reunion, there is almost always a need for more volunteers to help with the planning. It’s a lot to get done, and it never hurts to have more hands-on-deck to help plan and coordinate events during the reunion. 

Key College Reunion Planning Committee Roles

There are a few central positions you will want to appoint on your virtual college reunion planning committee. These individuals will then partner with a group of volunteers to conduct the day-to-day planning activities for the reunion.

The size of your committee will depend on how many alumni you anticipate will attend your event. Unfortunately, there is no definite way to answer how many people should be on a college reunion planning committee. Still, it is best to have at least 20 people ready to help throughout the planning process.

These are the essential reunion committee positions and associated responsibilities:

Reunion Chair 

The reunion chair oversees all reunion planning and acts as the main point of contact for the alumni association and other planning committee members. This role is responsible for coordinating committee meetings, making all final approvals, and overseeing the planning timeline.

Alumni Support Chair

Your prospective attendees will have a range of questions leading up to and during your event. Appoint one person to oversee and coordinate alumni support services. This person will act as a traffic controller and partner closely with the communications/marketing team to route requests to the finance, technology, or program teams as needed.

Communications/Marketing Chair

The communications or marketing lead oversees a team to coordinate all alumni outreach before and after the event. In addition, this team partners closely with the alumni association to:

  • Source alumni contact information 
  • Create and distribute invitations or save-the-date cards, as well as ongoing event communications through phone, email, or other channels
  • Manage any reunion-related social media channels or online communities. Build information hubs for reunion attendees, including an event website

Finance Chair

This individual is responsible for creating and monitoring the budget for your class reunion. At the end of the reunion, the finance chair will report on all expenses and income, as well as any leftover funds. All other committee chairs must gain purchase approvals from the finance chair, and all volunteers are responsible for helping to meet the finance chair’s fundraising goals.

Giving Chair

A core goal of many college reunions is to help raise funds for the university and garner ongoing support for the university’s mission. Appoint a member of your committee to advance this goal. They will partner with the alumni association to determine the best approach to encourage donations to the university. They will also coordinate all follow-up and thank yous for donors. 

Program Chair

Appoint a person who will oversee the creation and management of your class reunion agenda. This individual will not be solely responsible for organizing the series of activities, but they will be the one to finalize all agenda elements ahead of the reunion. 

Technology Chair

The main difference between a virtual and in-person college class reunion is the technical requirements for hosting each. With a virtual college reunion, it’s essential to designate a tech-savvy individual who can partner with the finance chair to find an event platform that will meet your alumni’s needs. In addition, the technology committee should partner with the communications committee to create FAQs and how-to documents to help alumni navigate the tech elements of your reunion. 

An Ideal Online College Class Reunion Planning Timeline

Your team should start planning your reunion at least one year in advance. The first step is to identify the right people to serve as the committee chairs we described above. Then, meet at least once a month, or more as needed, as an entire planning committee to oversee the next steps and encourage each chair to host separate meetings to coordinate their team’s activities. 

Ideally, follow this timeline when planning a virtual reunion:

12 months before event: 

  • Identify all committee chairs and align on responsibilities.
  • Partner with your alumni association to source contact information for all prospective attendees. 
  • Conduct a pre-reunion survey to understand what your attendees want out of your event. This survey can also invite alumni to volunteer to help your planning committee. Field this survey for at least one month, and then use it to inform your next steps.

11 months before event: 

  • Set a general budget for the reunion based on your anticipated attendee count, which you will gauge in your pre-reunion survey. 
  • Divide existing volunteers into appropriate committees.
  • Begin planning your agenda elements and inviting speakers.
  • If there is an in-person component of your reunion, begin sourcing group hotel rates or other travel logistics.
  • Confirm reunion date.

Ten months before event: 

  • Begin exploring event technology vendors.
  • Finalize fundraising plan.
  • Send initial save-the-date postcards or emails.
  • Publish reunion website to serve as a hub for prospective attendees.

Six months before event: 

  • Open registration for alumni. 
  • Coordinate a bi-weekly communications cadence to remind alumni of the reunion and promote your registration. Include social media posts, emails, and other communications channels to reach as many alumni as possible.
  • Post a preliminary reunion agenda to drum up excitement.

Four months before event:

  • Start collecting any memorabilia for the reunion, including photos for the slideshow.
  • Plan and purchase alumni gifts or swag bag items.

One month before the event:

  • Release full reunion agenda.
  • Research and develop remembrance ceremony materials. 
  • Finalize all planning elements.
  • Receive any final presentation or other agenda item files for your reunion. 

One month after the event: 

  • Share a photo slideshow, talk recordings, and other relevant files with attendees.
  • Debrief as a planning committee on post-reunion statistics, including how many people attended and how much money was raised for the university. 
  • Draft a document that collects the lessons learned and outcomes from the reunion to act as a resource for the next reunion’s planning committee.
  • Send all donors a thank-you card.

Sustain Your College Class Community Between Reunions

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to hosting a virtual college reunion, and we encourage you to structure your planning committee and timeline in a way that can best support any range of fun activities or ideas that your team has in mind. 

Once your reunion is finished and everyone has received their thank-you notes and said their goodbyes, it can be easy to slip back into your “normal” life for another five years until your next reunion. If possible, have a subset of your reunion planning team keep in touch to plan additional events between your reunions to keep the excitement high. 
Learn more about how Social hour can help you host a memorable virtual alumni event.

Categories
virtual events

How To Create An Exciting Virtual College Reunion Schedule of Events [via Social hour]

This post originally appeared on the Social hour blog.

If you’re planning a virtual college class reunion, it’s common to face a few initial questions: 

  • How can you adapt an in-person class reunion for an online audience? 
  • What does a typical virtual college reunion agenda look like? 
  • What activities take place during an online class reunion?

Drawing from examples from leading universities with the most robust alumni networks in the U.S., we’ve gathered the essential virtual college reunion activities and additional fun ideas to help you create a complete experience that will truly impress your alumni. 

Essential Elements of a Virtual College Reunion Agenda

Your virtual college reunion schedule should include a variety of activities throughout the day and into the night to appeal to the range of alumni reunion goals and expectations. 

Some alumni will want a family-friendly experience and the opportunity to show their children or loved ones their alma mater. Others will want high-energy, adult-oriented activities focused on reliving the excitement of college, and reconnecting with the people who made those years special. 

The best way to understand your alumni expectations and maximize your potential attendee satisfaction is to survey them ahead of the reunion to understand what sort of activities they are or are not interested in. We share a few essential pre-reunion survey questions in this overview of planning a virtual reunion.

Generally, though, there are a few core elements of college reunions that your planning committee should at least consider adding to your reunion agenda during the mornings and afternoons:

  • Welcome Address: Start your virtual class reunion with a welcome address from a member of your planning committee or a notable member of your university leadership. This is an opportunity to greet attendees, explain what they can expect during your reunion, and ultimately set the tone for the rest of the event.
  • Alumni Spotlight Conversations: Feature notable alumni or group alumni based on current role or industry to discuss their work and their views on how their world of work is changing. This can help your attendees connect with other alumni who now work in similar fields, offering invaluable professional networking opportunities. 
  • College Leadership and Faculty Remarks: Host speeches, panel discussions, or informal fireside chats with key leadership members from the university, including the president, vice president, dean, or your student body leaders. These can involve inspirational or thought-provoking discussions (in the style of a TED Talk), an examination of current world events or trends, or a speech that celebrates the class and its accomplishments. 
  • Current Student Remarks: Spotlight current students and their stories to help alumni understand how the university is creating opportunities for its students to thrive, and how they can help those efforts. 
  • Identity and Faith-Based Discussions: Provide open networking spaces or coordinate a discussion of topics related to gender, race, identity, or religion (as appropriate).
  • Remembrance Ceremony: Honor the deceased members of your collegiate community with a special program. Consider including a photo slideshow and offer dedicated rooms for alumni to openly grieve those that they have lost. 

To better understand how you can approach each of these agenda elements, check out these virtual class reunion agendas from Cornell, Smith College, and Amherst College.

8 Virtual College Class Reunion Activity Ideas

The above essential elements of a college reunion are just one piece of your schedule. You will also want to layer in fun activities and networking areas that allow your alumni to freely connect with one another throughout the event.

Include these fun college class reunion activities to keep the energy high during your event and break away from more structured talks:

  • Breakout/Open Networking Rooms: Your alumni are excited to reconnect, and a virtual environment is ideal for enabling guests to hop in and out of rooms at their leisure. Select a virtual event platform that allows you to create small group breakout rooms, ideally with a thought-starter prompt. These can include questions like “What Restaurants Do You Miss” or “Favorite College Memory,” or instead use categories like “Sports Fans,” “Greek Life,” “Now Based In [State or Region],” or “[Dorm or Residence Hall].”
  • Campus Tour: What is new on campus? What little-known facts can you share? Pre-record a campus and community tour, or take attendees on a live tour of select locations. This campus tour video from D’Youville or this from Williston Northampton shows how you can approach your tour.
  • Fun Run: Encourage alumni to complete a fun run and submit their time with the alumni association. You can learn more about how to plan a virtual fun run in this walkthrough
  • Game or Trivia Night: Host a variety of online card or board games, or coordinate a trivia night that focuses on the history of your college or fun facts about your graduating year. 
  • Happy Hour Or Wine and Paint: Offer an open happy hour networking time, or add structure by turning it into a “wine and paint” or similar activity. To elevate the experience further, mail your attendees cocktail mixes to try, or a themed paint kit. 
  • Recipe Sharing: Appeal to the bakers and foodies in your alumni network by hosting a recipe sharing or how-to cooking or baking session. Mail supplies or grocery lists to alumni ahead of time so that they can follow along from home. 
  • Talent Performance: Let your class performers take the stage to sing, perform an instrument, or showcase some other talent that they have. These performances can be recorded ahead of time and streamed so that attendees can all watch and engage with each other. 
  • Yoga or Group Exercise: Allow your attendees to take a moment to unwind and recenter themselves in a yoga or similar group exercise class.

Remember to not pack your agenda too full to allow attendees to take part in one or more of these activities. Your reunion guests need ample time to network with each other and gain the full value that they can from your agenda. If you offer too many exciting activities, or don’t have time in the schedule set aside for these opportunities, your alumni will need to make tough choices on what main events to attend, and that could detract from their experience.

How To Delight Your College Online Reunion Attendees

With the core agenda elements set for your class reunion, your planning committee can now focus on the finishing touches that will turn a perfectly acceptable reunion into a truly outstanding experience.

Pre-reunion Engagement Opportunities

Ahead of the event, create branded hashtags to help alumni keep up with the latest information and join conversations about your reunion. Mail your attendees swag bags and other goodies to get them excited for the reunion. These can include class apparel or useful items like USB drives, as well as any items they’ll need for your reunion activities. And create virtual backgrounds for attendees to use during the event, like these alumni background examples from Stanford University or these from Williston Northampton School

Keep the Momentum Going During the Event

During the event, include a playlist that features popular songs from your college years. Or, live stream a band or similar musician that performs covers of those songs. Further this trip down memory lane with a photo slideshow or video montage in an easy self-service area for alumni to revisit memories at their leisure. 

After the Event

Once your event is over, there are a few final ways to provide value to your attendees. First, share a copy of your virtual photo album, campus tour, or other assets that your alumni may want to revisit. Ensure that they are aware of any social media community groups that they can join to continue engaging with one another after the reunion.

Finally, ensure that you conduct a post-event survey that can help inform future class reunions. Ask about each attendee’s overall satisfaction with the event, their favorite sessions or activities, and any ways that the experience can be improved.

Make Your Online College Reunion an Event to Remember

By hosting a mix of essential in-person college reunion activities and fun, online-friendly activities and networking venues, your alumni are more likely to have a fulfilling reunion experience.

Are you looking for a virtual event platform that can provide your attendees with a number of large and small group activity options? Learn more about how Social hour has hosted alumni events for some of the nation’s top universities.

Categories
virtual events

How to Plan Hybrid Events That Engage Your Attendees and Make Them Come Back for More

A global pandemic doesn’t have many upsides for event planners and marketers. What we do have is a year of lessons learned. When every type of event imaginable was suddenly shifted online, we learned some truths about the “old” way of hosting events. The result is a changed expectation from event-goers as venues reopen their doors for online and in-person events. 

While 2020’s online event transitions were not always smooth, with many far from perfect, what we learned was that having the opportunity to attend virtually made many events accessible in ways that in-person-only events could never be. Ultimately, we have learned that there is no going back. The future of events is the hybrid event — a seamless blend of in-person and virtual experiences to create greater value for both groups. 

You might think that planning a hybrid event simply means planning your event as usual and then bolting on the online component. Alas, the best way is the complete opposite. There are many considerations you need to make when planning.   

What we learned from moving events online

To understand how to build the best hybrid event strategy, we need to look at some of the challenges. The pandemic arrived, and lockdowns went into effect around the world. Events of every type were suddenly either postponed indefinitely or moved online. And it wasn’t just event organizers for large-scale events suddenly having to learn a new approach. 

For companies and business groups, after companies had sent everyone home, the operations team scrambled to work through digital transformation projects they’d expected to have significantly more time to execute against. It was now critical to figure out how to handle company meetings and conferences on top of day-to-day collaboration. Investment in business collaboration tools boomed, but it also exposed their limitations and feature gaps. Workers began suffering video conference burnout. Corporate event planners knew they needed a new strategy to keep their audience engaged in the face of “Zoom fatigue.”

Performers, events staff, and venues all faced unique challenges. Bars, clubs, and concert halls closed. Streamed performances began to pop up across platforms — from solo artists broadcasting via Facebook Live to DJs streaming live sets via Twitch (traditionally seen as a video game streaming service).

At first, all these experiences were jarring as they represented the huge hole that cancellations and closures had left in our lives (and social calendars). Over time, as we all adapted, some silver linings emerged. It was fun to dance in our living rooms. Events we may not have been able to attend physically were easy to tune in to. Workers and family members alike were relieved of expensive travel to attend meetings or celebrations. 

Will it blend? Bringing together your online and in-person event experiences.

We’ve looked deeply now at the challenges and lessons learned from the pandemic. The big takeaway is that while it was hard at first, new technologies have emerged to bridge the gaps. People have adapted to having the choice to attend virtually, and the future of event planning must include this element. 

But, successful hybrid event planning means far more than just creating an in-person event and bolting on a virtual component. You must be “virtual-first” in your planning and then build your in-person experience around that. There are several questions you must consider as you are planning that will guide your approach. 

For meetings, seminars, panels, and the like, think about interactions between the audience and the presenter(s). This is a common pain point, especially for the speakers themselves.

Some questions you must consider are:

  1. How will attendees of each type interact with the presenter(s)?
  2. Will audience members of each type be able to interact with each other?
  3. How will virtual attendees be represented in the physical event space?

More intimate events like weddings and receptions pose additional challenges to ensure that virtual attendees aren’t stuck as observers in the proverbial corner. This requires rethinking not only what technology we use but how we use it. 

Let’s take a high-level walk-through of the hybrid event planning process.

Step 1: Plan your hybrid event’s online approach

First, you need to understand the event’s objectives and fully commit to it as a hybrid experience. This means unifying the online and in-person experiences to create equally great value for both types of participants. Let’s plan an example event: an industry trade show. First, we need to identify all the elements that we wish to include in our event:

  1. Keynote speech
  2. Individual speaker presentations with Q&A
  3. Panel discussions with interactive audience
  4. Trade show floor
  5. Prepared lunch
  6. Networking social hour

To properly build out this hybrid event, we must start by looking at the virtual elements for each piece. How will our virtual attendees experience each one?

Keynote Speech

The keynote speech doesn’t include a Q&A, so the audience passively observes, although they may be sharing points that resonate on social media. We want to make sure we deliver an engaging experience for our virtual audience to build the same level of energy and excitement the physical audience experiences. 

Individual Speaker Presentations with Q&A

For these presentations, we must make sure that our virtual audience can interact with the speaker for questions, see all presented materials, and of course, see and hear the speaker. We also want our virtual audience not to feel like they are watching from the sidelines — what are some clever ways to increase engagement and interactivity?

Panel Discussions

Like the speaker presentations, we must fully engage the virtual audience and then identify how to integrate the physical attendee experience. Virtual attendees need equal levels of interaction and representation to the panel — how might the overall format of the panel be shifted to accommodate this?

Trade Show Floor

The true highlight of any trade show is the showroom floor. Here vendors have booths full of swag and potential access to important names. Plus, attendees have the chance to meet and interact with each other. Virtual attendees want to have this immersive experience and ability to network — how will we place them inside the showroom floor?

Prepared Luncheon

A catered luncheon with 2-3 meal options. A casual opportunity to talk, network, and make new connections/friendships. What does a virtual luncheon look like? How might virtual and physical attendees connect? How do you keep it from being a sad desk lunch for those not there in person?

Networking Social Hour

A more free-movement opportunity for networking than the luncheon, this is a happy hour style social event. Similar questions as the luncheon apply here. How will virtual attendees “roam the room” and have helpful chance encounters and conversations?

2. Build out your hybrid event

Now that you’ve considered all the event’s online elements and asked all the pertinent questions, it’s time to build out the rest of your event experience. Let’s look again at each portion of our trade show event and think about what features and technologies will create a valuable and interactive experience for your attendees. You will need to determine your Virtual Event Platform. Prepare to build out a custom app that does far more than just provide a map and schedule — it will need to build in connection, communication, and interactive functions (or choose a VEP that has a mobile-friendly interface). 

  • Individual speaker presentations with Q&A: Broadcast via livestream to virtual attendees with camera views of both speaker and in-person audience. Dedicated moderators work with both audiences to gather questions. Virtual attendees can ask questions/provide comments via audio or submission to a moderator. Additional interactivity comes in the form of audience polls and games via the app. 
  • Keynote Speech: Broadcast via live stream to virtual attendees. The trade show app gives both virtual and in-person attendees a commentary feed projected alongside the stage. 
  • Panel Discussions: Questions are collected through the trade show app ahead of time from all attendees. Moderators feed these questions to the panel, which is live-streamed. Live comment feed is broadcast (similar to the keynote). 
  • Trade Show Floor: Mail swag bags to all virtual attendees. Create a 3D rendering of the trade show floor to allow virtual attendees to see displays and setups. Create virtual sponsored booths for remote attendees to visit and interact with. Use a remote platform that makes swapping contact info easy and fun.
  • Prepared Luncheon: Select your lunch menu based on what is easy to ship prepared to attendees’ homes or that can be delivered through a nationwide delivery app partner. Make sure your menus are the same for both. Use a platform that provides accessible breakout rooms or tables for attendees to chat and connect. 
  • Networking Social Hour: Create lounges and fun spaces for virtual networking. Allow virtual and in-person attendees to connect through a networking “wall” and trade info using the app. Set up game or discussion tables that physical and virtual attendees can join.

3. Market and promote your hybrid event

You’ve built out your event and determined what features and functions you need. Now you need to sell tickets and get word to your audience. You need to engage both virtual and in-person attendees with a value statement — meaning you need to demonstrate equal value no matter how they attend. This includes emphasizing what makes each special and exciting, whether it be the immersive experience or flexibility and accessibility.

When marketing to both groups, keep the focus on integration and interactivity. Highlight how both groups can benefit from networking and connecting with each other. Provide online networking platforms pre-event to get attendees connected and build hype and excitement. And think about how the addition of interactive platforms enhances both experiences. 

The future of events is hybrid

Event coordinators and conference planners are faced with a new event planning landscape, and their event strategy must adapt. Participants have new expectations, and meeting them means investing in a new way of thinking and new technologies to support it. Remember, there is no going back — hybrid events are here to stay. But with the right tools and strategies, you’ll be able to plan and host interactive and engaging events that wow your attendees, no matter how they attend. 

Learn more about how Socialhour.com can help you create a more engaging hybrid event, or schedule a demo.

Categories
virtual events

How To Plan A Virtual College Class Reunion Event Alumni Will Love

Thanks to the rise in virtual events, college reunions can reconnect countless more passionate alumni and faculty from across the globe. 

Understandably, it may sound tricky to adapt a college reunion for a virtual environment. We’re here to help. Whether you’re planning an all-virtual college reunion or a hybrid mix with in-person and online elements, here’s what to include in your event plans and ideas for making the most of hosting it through a virtual platform.

Use Alumni Surveys To Design Your Best Virtual Class Reunion

Lead your event design by addressing alumni needs and hopes for the event. Your reunion setup will, in part, depend on what anniversary you are celebrating. Generally, a 25th reunion marks a significant shift because attendees are ready to re-explore memories and discuss different topics than current work and life successes.

The most effective way to understand what your alumni want is to directly ask them through a mix of surveys, small group conversations, or 1:1 chats starting as far as seven months before your anticipated reunion date.

Some core questions to ask include:

  • Are you interested in an in-person, hybrid, or all-virtual reunion? [rank your options]
  • What do you hope to gain by attending the reunion?
  • Do you have any specific requests for the event?
  • What is the ideal length of a reunion for you?
    • Half-day
    • Full day
    • Two days
    • Three days
  • Which of the following activity types are you most interested in during a virtual reunion?:
    • Speeches and presentations from staff or faculty
    • Lectures and presentations from alumni
    • Casual open-room networking
    • Coordinated group activities through video
  • Are you interested in helping support the reunion in any of the following ways?
    • I would like to be on the reunion planning committee
    • I would like to speak at the reunion
    • I would like to help during the reunion 
    • I would like to donate items or goods for use during the reunion

Use multiple-choice questions to understand your group’s general needs. Open response options will provide more thorough insight but take longer to review.

What Is the Best Virtual Reunion Platform?

With your survey responses analyzed, it’s time to find a platform that can meet these expectations.

There are a lot of virtual events platforms, but many are built with bare-minimum functions or restrictions that treat you like a child. These platforms will be difficult to tailor for your reunion, and your attendees may skip the event altogether if the interface is too confusing or lackluster. 

At a minimum, consider these five essential areas for your virtual reunion platform:

  • Cost based on attendees and time limit: Ask how much the platform costs based on your anticipated attendee count and the necessary elements—breakout rooms, mainstage speaker, during-event announcements—you need for a complete experience.
  • Networking capabilities: How can attendees connect with each other? What level of customization is available for attendee networking rooms?
  • Support for live-streamed or pre-recorded video: What type of content does the platform support?
  • Live support: Does the vendor provide technical support in case something goes wrong during your event?
  • Security: There is always a risk that an alumnus may attend your event with an ulterior motive, or your reunion could be the target of Zoom bombing. Review any security features of each vendor and assess what level of risk your team is comfortable with. 

These are just the top-level questions to ask. We’ve created this 13-question checklist to help you find an ideal virtual college reunion platform. 

Virtual College Reunion Example Schedule and Activities

With a platform and date set, you can now create your event agenda

Start with the essentials. What are the major, must-have elements during your reunion? Generally, college reunions involve these activities:

  • Speeches or panel discussions from college leadership, including the president, vice president, dean, or class leadership. 
  • Remarks from current students. 
  • Alumni-spotlight conversations. These can be a panel conversation, “fireside chat,” or 1:1 or small group presentations for alumni.
  • Interest-based activities or group discussions. 
  • Remembrance ceremony. 

With your core items in place, blend in these other fun reunion activities that work incredibly well for a virtual college reunion:

  • Fun Run
  • Campus tour
  • Small group breakout rooms
  • Happy hour or wine and paint

It’s a New Age of College Reunions

This blog post provides just a glimpse at what you can accomplish during a virtual college reunion. Survey your alumni and create a schedule that is hyper-focused on their needs. You’re then more likely to host a successful event that rebuilds connections and helps your university continue to prosper.

You will likely find that your event technology is the biggest hurdle in your planning process. It’s critical to find an option that will allow you to build the experience you need, plus the benefits of security and an intuitive interface.

We’ve built Socialhour to help accelerate your event design and allow you to focus on what really matters—rekindling relationships that will last a lifetime. Contact us for a virtual reunion consultation: https://events.socialhour.com/contact 

Categories
online meetings

10 Games and Icebreaker Activities to Engage Virtual Meeting Attendees

There was significant uncertainty during most of 2020 about how long employees would need to work from home, with many people anxiously awaiting their return to the office. A year into the pandemic with vaccinations on the rise, workers hope to keep these flexible working arrangements, ushering in the era of hybrid work.

As we navigate this transition, companies will increasingly focus on combining the in-person and remote working experiences and improving the remote work employee experience. Notably, loneliness is one of the top three challenges for remote workers, meaning there is an opportunity for companies to connect their teams and build genuine and fulfilling work relationships. 

Online Team-building Games and Activities for Virtual Meetings

There is no single way for companies to effectively address the range of concerns for employees associated with returning to office work. However, an excellent place to start is to assess how your team can build and reinforce a positive culture in both physical and digital environments. 

Consider implementing these simple team-building games and activities at the start of your video conferencing calls to strengthen your team dynamic and lessen feelings of loneliness for your remote workers. Here are ten virtual meeting icebreakers and team activities to consider:

  • 20 Questions: Provide a series of creative questions for guests to get to know each other better. Compile your list in an easy-to-access document that all team leads can access ahead of their meetings. Realistically, 20 questions are too many for any single call, but you can aim to explore at least one or two questions each meeting.
  • Ad-Lib Games: Similar to Mad Libs, you can play any variety of free online ad-lib games, like Mad:)Takes. Simply select your word game theme and have meeting attendees contribute words to fill the story. 
  • Desert Island Scenario: In this game, team members must choose three of seven optional objects for them to use if they were stranded on a deserted island. This is simple to play, and you can share the list of options in your video conference platform’s chat box so everyone can quickly review their options.
  • Desk Show and Tell: Give attendees advanced notice of this activity, and have them point their camera toward their desk to show their workspace. Encourage them to share any funny stories about the items within their reach, or explain why certain items are significant.
  • Hybrid Work Bingo: Provide your team with a new bingo card at your regularly scheduled meeting. During the week, they will fill out that card based on their work activities. At the start of your next meeting, have team members share if they got bingo and encourage them to share a story or two about the items they checked off. 
  • Name, Place, Thing, Animal: Similar to Scattergories, provide attendees with a random letter to then list a famous person’s name, a place, an animal, and a thing that begins with that letter. Allow one minute for people to write their answers, and then have everyone share their responses.
  • Rank It: Provide a list of five random objects and a fictitious scenario, and ask meeting attendees to rank those items in terms of usefulness in the scenario. The goal is to provide a diverse range of options and out-of-the-box scenarios, including objects like “hairdryer,” “overcooked spaghetti,” or “a blue marker that only works half the time,” and scenarios like “ski vacation,” “year-end review of results,” or “space exploration.”
  • Scattergories: At the start of each call, give attendees one letter and five categories in your video conferencing chat window. Give them one minute to come up with a word that starts with that letter and fits within the category, and then have everyone read their answers.
  • Two Truths and a Lie: Ask guests to share two truths about themselves and one lie. Then, have the other attendees vote on which of the three statements is the lie.
  • Virtual Scavenger Hunt: Ask guests to find obscure items in their homes within one minute. You can grab a variety of free lists here.

Whichever game(s) you decide to play, remember that consistency is vital to establish a new pattern for your employees. Encourage all people managers and team leads to start their calls with a five-minute activity and solicit new icebreaker ideas from attendees.

A Hybrid Workforce Needs Modern Video Conferencing  Solutions

Evolving your workplace culture to support a hybrid workforce is an exciting opportunity, and directly ask your team about how you can improve their experience.

Continue to introduce new games and activities during your conference calls to keep ideas fresh and provide new ways for team members to get to know each other.

Even the best efforts to connect a team can fall flat, though, if the right technology isn’t in place. Some video conferencing solutions are clunky, unintuitive, and will crush even the most fun team-building activities. 

Learn how Team.Video and Socialhour.com can support your team’s video conferencing and virtual event  needs.