We’ve all experienced Zoom fatigue, back to back meetings with colleagues, clients, suppliers and even friends. How can you still connect with people at online events when you’re being forced into breakout rooms not of your own choosing? (Actually Zoom has changed this now and you can select which breakout rooms – but only if the organisers let you!) As an organiser and producer of live events we have really seen the need to think carefully about the delegate journey.
We need some delegate empathy, it might have taken them a while to join, they may have struggled to find the login details, arrived late and stressed, (though probably not windswept and wet without a coat and umbrella, as was often the case in face to face events!) We need to think about what is the first thing they want – apart from a cup of coffee. We all need a friendly face when we turn up at an event in real life, we need one online too.
For recent events we’ve set up a helpdesk, which is staffed throughout the event, where delegates can turn up – and chat via video to one of our friendly team and ask questions about anything on the platform, or trouble shoot if they are having some technical issues.
People want to connect with other people – in formal ways – such as a workshop or roundtable, but they also want those bumping into people moments, the chance catch-up in the queue for registration or waiting to hand over your coat, have your photograph taken or whilst waiting for coffee. These are all priceless connections at face to face events. Using a platform where people can have some fun interactions is critical to the event experience.
We’ve used a platform called Hopin and have had really great success with having virtual coffee tables available to join during breaks and encouraging delegates to try out the networking function. This is a random pairing of one delegate with another – enabling a chat via video for 30 seconds or up to 5 minutes – speakers have taken part in this too – it’s fun because you never know who you are going to get!
And we like a platform where delegates can send direct messages to each other, not just group wide chat. The side conversations, finding that someone else sees things the same way you do, is a real way to feel you’ve connected.
We long for a return to face to face events, we’re all going to be a little bit giddy when we can properly gather again, but until that time when it’s safe to do so, we need to make sure we provide plenty of opportunities to connect, and have some fun whilst we’re learning, meeting and working online!