While millions of Americans come to terms with working remotely, many are missing the key elements that tie an organization together. But even within the confines of social distancing, you can still engage with colleagues face-to-face. The following guidelines offer suggestions for how to host a company virtual event and pull it off seamlessly.  

How to Host Company Events Online

1. Familiarize Yourself With the Program

Video conferencing isn’t the same as hosting an in-person meeting or event. Try to familiarize yourself with the technology as soon as possible—learn how to initiate a session, invite attendees, mute your microphone, turn your camera off and on, use the chat feature, and end the call. As a precaution, read through the program’s troubleshooting page so you can anticipate how to respond to a technical glitch if one should occur.  

2. Help Viewers Set Up

Send an email with detailed instructions about how to install and launch the virtual event and encourage viewers to test the system before the start time. Include attachments or links to download the system and join the meeting. 

To ensure people don’t double-book, it’s a good idea to also create a calendar event and issue reminders.

3. Simplify the Process

Assume your least technologically adept employees will attend the event and simplify the process as much as possible. If you have the resources, prepare a small taskforce to help viewers troubleshoot their computer over the phone or via chat if they have difficulty logging into the system. As an alternative, reach out to the hosting platform and ask if a customer service representative can be available for the first session to ensure everything goes smoothly.

In case people experience connectivity problems or discover their audio outlet doesn’t work, provide a dial-in option.

4. Start With Genuine, Human Interaction

Whether you’re hosting a department meeting, virtual happy hour, or group yoga class, take 5-10 minutes at the beginning of every session to let attendees interact with each other. It’s important to give your team opportunities to socialize because it establishes a sense of community and interconnection, even while they work from home. Talking with colleagues can feel reassuring while everyone adapts to a new way of work. It’s an effective way to help your colleagues decompress, which in turn will encourage them to be more receptive and engaged. 

5. Push Through the Initial Discomfort

It only takes a few milliseconds for most people to feel uncomfortable if there’s a gap in conversation—but don’t let short periods of silence discourage you. Video conferencing causes a slight delay in normal conversational patterns, and this can sometimes make the presenter feel like their audience is disengaged. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt as they acclimate to the system.

The presenters should smile and look at the camera lens like they’re making eye contact with a person in front of them. Some prefer to turn off their camera view so their display doesn’t distract them. 

If you push through the initial discomfort of presenting in front of your computer or phone, you’ll find that virtual events have a lot of advantages—they allow people to connect in a more personal way than by email or phone, and they make the material accessible to everyone, regardless of their location. It’s far more engaging than a simple slideshow presentation and a valuable asset for keeping in touch.