My golden rule for engaging participants in online events and fun digital meetings

The other day I was preparing webinar in collaboration with Halito and realised that the lessons I learned as a facilitator of meetings are now more important than ever.

That is: Always prepare a blueprint for your meeting. It doesn’t matter with how many people you are, whether it’s a presentation, a webinar, a series of workshops or a meeting. The quality of your meeting will be much greater if you consciously take the time to think about the desired yield, the possible obstacles with the audience and the methods you require to achieve your goal.

Is the event manager’s world changing radically?

During the webinar I showed this clip (in Dutch) by Jitske Kramer, about the radical change a culture shock like Corona can bring about. I asked our audience what radical changes they foresaw and they mentioned, among other things, the acceptance of far-reaching digitisation. They mentioned the benefits that that would bring for the environment and our time spending thanks to less traffic jams, less air traffic and more and more flexible working from home. Several participants hoped that this change will be permanent.

A bit strange I think as technically we’ve been able to do this for years. Working from home, videoconferencing, hosting online webinars and organising events online is nothing new. Yet this was not a generally accepted phenomenon before Corona. Culture plays an important role in the acceptance of technology. Our culture is now forced to change faster and the acceptance of online contact and working from home has increased. But is this going to stay? And if so, what does this mean for an event manager?

The event manager as jack-of-all-and-1-trades

Now that we have enjoyed the benefits of online conferencing, I expect online conferencing and meeting to continue. Provided we do it right! We have to watch out for so-called zoom-fatigue where people stumble from video consultation to video meeting or literally disappear from view when they are not actively participating in a conversation. Webinars with little or no interaction are common. And during many online events there is hardly any room for contact between visitors.

That’s a shame in my opinion, because things could really be different. You as event manager were already a jack-of-all-trades and now there’s another trade to master. Besides the fact that you need to know everything about the available technology, the events also need to be arranged differently. An online event requires a different programme and a different approach from the speakers. With knowledge of facilitation techniques you can now offer even more added value. Online meetings and encounters become fun and effective.

Design every meeting, big or small

Take the time to think about the goal, the desired yield, the attitude and situation of your guests and the most appropriate setup. Realise that people can’t listen passively for too long. Starting actively is essential if you expect an active input from the guests. Welcome everyone into your meeting. Always. And make sure they have something to say. Want more tips & tricks? Take a look here and find out how you can use working methods (in Dutch) during a session. This is also possible in an online meeting. Maybe in an online session it is even more important for the dynamics.

An event manager is often responsible for the entire event and not for the content of the different sessions. I think it’s good to be aware of the fact that the quality of the sessions radiates from the event. Encourage the speakers not only to share their slides on time, but also the design of their session. Encourage them to think about a creative set-up and maybe you can help them with that. Then you will also know in good time which technical tools you need. I always use 2knowhow‘s (in Dutch) blue print as a practical guide. 

We will add a design kit for your meeting to our new virtual meeting lounge as well. That way as a facilitator you will be able to create great meetings and easily stick to your plan.

Would you like to have a chat about how you can approach the organisation of your event? Let me know. I’d like to think with you.


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