As some of us return to work in a modified office environment and others plan to continue to work from home, virtual meetings will continue to be a distinct facet of our reality. Whether it’s a simple video chat with your team or a multi-day virtual conference like SURGE Connect, you likely have a plethora of virtual meetings and events crowding your calendar. The problem is, so do your members.
WebEx experienced a 2,284% spike in video meetings in March–April and Zoom saw a 317% increase in meeting participants. While there are a number of key components to running an effective virtual meeting, including selecting the right technology, assigning roles and establishing buy-in, and creating opportunities for engagement, one often overlooked area of virtual meeting management is finding ways to surprise and delight attendees.
Although you may have heard of inviting llamas to your Zoom meeting, creating a delightful experience can go well beyond silly and become something truly satisfying for your members. It’s a way to create a bit more ‘stickiness’ in a hands-off world. For insight on how to create memorable virtual event entertainment, I reached out to Randy Bernstein. Randy is an award-winning magician, presenter, and entertainer, who recently pivoted his business to virtual entertainment. He has presented both virtually and in-person at a number of association and nonprofit events and is the owner of Magic by Randy. Here are his tips for creating a magical virtual meeting experience.
Get on the Same Page
“It's all about preparation and customization. As a magician/infotainer, I send out a questionnaire asking for the high-level messages that will be conveyed in the meeting and then customize the magic tricks to reiterate the organization's values and event theme. I demonstrate different entertainment elements and collaborate with the team on which elements work best for them.”
Keep it Short and Sweet
“Less is more! Most of the teams I've engaged virtually want an abridged program. For example, my team building program (which I now call team connecting) is 60 to 90 minutes. My virtual programs are 30 to 45 minutes.”
Make it Participatory
“If an organization chooses to add some entertainment to their virtual event, make sure it's interactive. Make sure they're fun activities that everyone can do. Also, add music before, during, and at the ending of a virtual event. Add an announcer, a comedian, or magician that engages everyone at once and create some laughter.”
Think Outside Your Typical Attendee Box
“The most successful virtual event I’ve ever done was ‘Bring Your Kids to Zoom Day’ for Intuit. Incorporating families into the program was a unique experience that fostered connection between and among families and the organization.”
Whether it’s a magician, a virtual wine tasting, a virtual trivia game, or a virtual 5K, there are countless ideas you and your organization can incorporate into your next virtual meeting or event to foster engagement and increase affinity.
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Amy Thomasson is a strategist, content creator, and storyteller with extensive experience in marketing and communications, membership development, and volunteer management. She has worked in a variety of business environments ranging from the Fortune 500 to professional associations. Amy currently serves as the marketing director for the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. Amy is incredibly passionate about volunteerism within the association and nonprofit management community, and currently serves as co-chair of Association Forum’s Content Working Group, as well as a mentor to Forum’s Emerging Leaders. She is also a highly-rated speaker and article author, who has partnered with ASAE, Association Forum, AssociationSuccess.org, and standalone associations to deliver engaging content. Amy is a 2018 recipient of Association Forum and USAE’s Forty Under 40® Award. She has a BA in Communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia, an Executive Leadership certificate from Cornell University, and a Professional Fundraising certificate from Boston University.