Corporate events have largely become Zoom webinars during the pandemic, but these types of interactions won't deliver results long-term. Leveraging a virtual tool to engage employees and create unique experiences is key to elevating internal virtual events.
Most physical events have been on hold for the past six months, and while corporate events will likely be the first to make a full comeback, many companies like Adobe and Microsoft have delayed all live internal meetings well into 2021.
It falls on virtual events to deliver on the value and objectives of their larger internal meetings. With the live stream becoming the default meeting room, how do you elevate these experiences to really make an impact on employees?
Embracing virtual and investing in a virtual event platform are key to successfully deploying internal events and keeping up morale in the Covid era. With 62 percent of employed Americans working remotely during the pandemic, workflows have been disrupted and people are craving connection. Virtual tools offer the features necessary to facilitate engagement and enable events to push forward and achieve their goals, even if live meetings aren't possible.
In this post, we'll take a look at four types of corporate events and discuss strategies to effectively translate event goals and features to a virtual format.
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Pivoting Internal Events to Virtual
The most important part of planning a company event is setting a clear goal or purpose. This goes for virtual events just as much as in-person meetings. For example, the purpose may be to motivate team members or share important company updates.
Once the goal has been determined, the next step is to figure out how to deliver on the value that employees expect from the event and achieve the event objectives without the usual strategies used at live events. You may be used to organizing an annual company-wide retreat in a different location every year, but in a virtual context, your event will not be able to rely on the excitement of traveling to a new destination.
This is where a dedicated virtual platform like Cadence can take your event to the next level by helping to keep your employees connected and engaged. With this in mind, here's a breakdown of four specific internal events along with tips to translate them to virtual.
Corporate training events are key to making sure that employees are on the same page and are kept informed of any recent updates to company policies or procedures. Although training presentations or workshops are usually held in person, whether at the office or off-site, they can easily be translated to virtual with a bit of planning.
CORPORATE TRAINING GOALS
Corporate training may focus on a specific team or department, or it may be company-wide. Potential goals for a corporate training might be to onboard and train new hires, to provide professional development workshops for senior employees, or to inform all employees about new company policies on inclusion or cybersecurity.
TRANSLATING CORPORATE TRAINING EVENTS TO VIRTUAL
Vary Session Formats
One of the best ways to keep employees engaged in a remote training event is to vary the session formats. Use a mix of larger plenary-style, live-streamed training sessions and small team workshops, which are made possible through the use of a dedicated virtual event tool like Cadence.
Encourage Audience Participation
Involving participants during the sessions is essential to ensure that they're not being talked at with no way to engage or ask questions. It's vital to foster an environment for employees to feel heard, to share their insights, ideas and problems to be solved.
For example, Cadence's Symphony feature allows sessions to stream directly into Cadence's platform and includes Q&A capabilities that enable attendees to ask and upvote questions. Speakers can also call up attendees on the video stream to ask their question.
The platform also includes a Live Feed, where admins can ask questions or post polls to encourage participants to engage and provide feedback. Attendees also have the opportunity to interact with one another as well as to post photos, videos or GIFs.
Limit Session Access
If there are various groups of employees who will be receiving different types of training during the event, you may need to distinguish between different types of sessions and be able to limit access to them. Cadence allows for this on its virtual platform by enabling planners to control who can view — and therefore attend — certain sessions.
Distribute Learning Materials
Since learning is generally a main goal of training events, it's important to be able to distribute relevant learning materials and resources. The Schedule within Cadence can be used to do just that for virtual events.
For example, at one of Cadence's own internal events, one of the Schedule items was a personal development workshop. Each team member was instructed to open the document saved on the Schedule item, which included a list of 8 categories. They then had to rank themselves from 1-10 in each category from career to health and fitness. After the exercise, the team wrote letters to their future selves about how they planned to improve upon each of the areas. This is a great way to leverage Cadence's features and incorporate an engaging activity into a virtual training event.
Corporate Team Building
Team building events are perhaps one of the most challenging corporate events to pivot to virtual since they rely heavily on in-person gatherings and activities. However, if done right, virtual team building events can be even more valuable because attendees are joining from home, which provide an opportunity to share more about themselves and help employees relate to each other.
CORPORATE TEAM BUILDING GOALS
The ultimate goal of team building events is to bring team members together to reinforce company spirit and culture, and/or to help introduce and integrate new employees. They revolve around fun, memorable activities for team members to take part in together, whether that's in-person or online.
TRANSLATING CORPORATE TEAM BUILDING EVENTS TO VIRTUAL
Send Teasers Before the Event
Building excitement and teasing a fun experience leading up to the event is critical for team building — especially if the virtual experience is a replacement for a recently cancelled physical event.
Using Cadence's platform, planners can send out notifications to attendees before the event to promote it and share any important updates or information. In addition, they can post teasers on the event's Live Feed in the form of gifs, videos, photos, polls, etc. to start engaging employees and allow them to begin connecting with each other.
Organize Creative Activities During the Event
While many icebreaker activities conventionally happen in person, the task for virtual event organizers will be to creatively think of how to translate that value in a new format. This will likely mean rethinking the activity based on the virtual event platform you’ve chosen, since it is the new de facto meeting venue.
For example, you could plan a type of scavenger hunt game where each attendee has a limited amount of time to grab certain items from around their house (i.e., two things they would save in a fire, or three things that have seen them through a lockdown). They would then have to come back to their screen with the items and take turns sharing what they picked. You could even gamify it by offering points to people with unique objects (or similar objects).
Another example is incorporating engaging shows like Ryan Oakes’ highly-original, interactive virtual magic show, Digital Deception.
Keep the Connection Alive After the Event
One of the advantages of a virtual event platform is that it provides a space for attendees to connect and engage even after the event itself concludes. With a tool like Cadence, you can easily keep the spirit of the event and the community you've built alive using the Moments pages, where employees can share their favorites moments from the event and refer back to them at any time.
Board meetings are all about efficiency and productivity, which can be enhanced with a virtual format. They are among the simplest types of events to move to virtual given that they don't tend to be overly complex.
BOARD MEETING GOALS
Board meetings are a way to connect a small team of decision-makers within an organization to discuss company updates, policy changes, etc, and to make key decisions. The main priority for a board meeting should be to facilitate discussion among members and enable sharing of relevant materials.
TRANSLATING BOARD MEETINGS TO VIRTUAL
Keep Sessions Brief and Focused
This is a best practice for any virtual event given that most people's attention spans are limited when it comes to online content, but it's especially important to keep in mind when organizing meetings for busy executives.
One way to keep everyone informed of the agenda items and timeframes is by using Cadence's Schedule, especially if the meeting will be taking place over several days. This feature allows planners and attendees to easily add any important information and documents related to the meeting's talking points so that they can get straight to business.
Another great tool to engage your audience is a unique activation provided by Live Illustrations wherein artists create beautiful drawings based on the key insights from your meetings. It’s a great way to spice up an otherwise mundane meeting.
Use a Familiar Streaming Tool
When it comes to executive meetings, it's generally best to stick with the streaming tool that board members are used to using internally — whether it's Webex, Microsoft Teams, or another service — for the sake of both familiarity and security.
With Cadence, you can host sessions through any third-party service and embed the stream in the platform in order to keep the meeting agenda and materials organized in one place while still being able to utilize familiar tools.
Brand the Meeting
C-suite attendees expect a higher level of polish and professionalism in their corporate experiences. While a physical meeting may include branded folders or other materials, the branding for a virtual event relies on the online environment. By using a dedicated event platform, you can fully brand the meeting with company colors, logos, and other relevant images to ensure a professional look and feel.
Leverage Virtual Breakout Rooms
If board members will need to split into smaller groups throughout the course of the meeting, select a platform that allows for a smooth transition to separate workspaces. Provide links to virtual breakout rooms to allow for simultaneous small discussions amid the full group discussions.
Sales teams are integral to any company, and being able to pivot, strategize, and get everyone on the same page quickly is more important these days than ever. With physical events on hiatus, this falls on virtual platforms.
GOALS OF SALES KICK-OFF MEETINGS
As the name implies, sales kick-offs are all about your sales team and motivating them for the year ahead. Other objectives may be to share new company goals or benchmarks and to celebrate the previous year's success.
TRANSLATING SALES KICK-OFF MEETINGS TO VIRTUAL
Select a Theme
Planning a kick-off event around a theme will set the tone for the event and help to keep everyone engaged, and doing so in a virtual format will be particularly helpful in keeping the event consistent and informing the design for the virtual environment.
This can easily be done with a tool like Cadence, which allows users to create a distinct aesthetic for their event using images throughout the app, which is a great way to immerse attendees in the event environment and get them excited about the different sessions.
Networking is a key part of sales kick-off meetings, and it can be one of the more challenging aspects to get right in a virtual environment. It's important to enable connections between attendees and to allow for leading sales reps to share their strategies with other members of the team.
A dedicated virtual event platform can be a valuable asset in this regard. For example, Cadence includes personalized connection recommendations to make sure attendees get the most out of their networking. The Live Feed feature can also be used in this context to encourage reps to share insights and promote discussions.
Bring on a Virtual Host
Including a virtual host or moderator to help lead an online sales kick-off event is a great way to keep employees entertained, keep the energy up, and help guide attendees through the event.
A virtual event platform that allows the moderator to be captured within the stream without impeding the stream’s other visual elements will help to give your event a professional feel. It will also be advantageous if the moderator can easily access questions or comments that they can pass to the speaker or presenter in a timely way, though this may require coordinating with them outside the platform.
Invite an Expert Speaker
Hosting a session with an expert speaker can further motivate employees and teach them valuable insights to help them improve their skills. In order to truly leverage the virtual format, consider inviting someone you may not have been able to include had the event been in-person.
Virtual formats also create opportunities for increased speaker diversity. When asked what effect she thought virtual had on diversity in EventMB’s recent Hybrid Revolution Summit event, Meschida Philip pointed out that virtual removes many of the traditional barriers for sourcing insights and expertise from everywhere; if not for virtual, she observes, she may not have had the opportunity to speak on a platform that size.
Virtual events have taken 2020 by storm, and they will soon be followed by a new wave of hybrid experiences. While it may not be ideal to have your team working remotely, it's more important than ever to keep up employee morale, and there are still ways to organize great company events virtually.For more information on how event engagement platforms can help take your internal events to the next level, reach out to the team at Cadence to schedule a demo.