Michael Saulpaugh is a Managing Partner at Montclair, NJ based Elegant Music Group.
With the morning air a bit crisper, the sun setting earlier and the leaves falling to the ground, we are reminded that the holiday season is quickly approaching. For businesses, this means it’s time to start planning the time-honored year-end company party.
However, amid a global pandemic, party objectives and safety concerns are markedly different this year. Stymied by in-person gathering restrictions, companies turning to virtual solutions have the difficult task of figuring out how to make these “events” meaningful and engaging. While this could make party-planning committees hold their collective breaths, all hope is not lost, and businesses can still have a great company party by using virtual platforms.
As the managing partner of an entertainment company that specializes in event production, I have five tips to help make your company’s virtual party a massive success:
1. Make the event easily accessible, and keep it in one ‘location.’ To have a great event, you need to ensure that people show up. Getting them there should be the easy part; it’s keeping them there that presents the challenge.
In these few short months of producing virtual events for our clients, I’ve seen how quickly digital attention can divert, so keep everything and everyone in one place, and refrain from using one platform for a chat and another for your live stream. Try an all-inclusive platform, as these will provide guests with the most ease of use and pleasurable viewing experience.
2. Engagement is everything. To keep people entertained for the entirety of the event, you must engage guests with interactive segments. Choosing a platform with multiple features (e.g., chat, polling, prompts, graphics, etc.) will help keep everyone vested in the event and command that coveted virtual attention.
Allowing your audience to interact with other guests is also an absolute must. But what is arguably more important is the content that each individual will get to consume during the event. I suggest incorporating a performance from a DJ, live band, comedian, keynote speaker or even a celebrity guest.
3. Curate for a cause. Often, events with a clearly defined goal of raising funds or awareness for a particular foundation or issue receive the most traction. Producing a content-driven event for a great cause can be an excellent way for your company to build community and rapport among employees. Consider researching easy-to-use donation platforms that can help you host your virtual event live stream and allow your guests to donate in realtime as the event is going on.
4. Offer prizes. Need I say more? Give stuff away and reward attendees with gift cards, raffles, prizes or whatever your human resources team approves. Pro tip: Consider spacing these prizes throughout the event instead of raffling or distributing all at once to help retain the guest count and keep attendees motivated to stay.
5. Production value is key. This is the most crucial thing to keep in mind: Last year’s company party was an event. This years’ is a production, so make sure you (or the event team you’re working with) understand this so that you can execute a sophisticated virtual party. Think less Zoom meeting and more polished TV show. If you do this right, your company party could make guests feel like they’re watching a highly-produced “Netflix Original.”
Soon enough, I believe the world will get back to business as usual, and more traditional in-person events will return. In the meantime, I encourage you to explore the possibilities of how fun virtual events can be if done correctly. By taking these tips into account, you will be on your way to producing a virtual event sure to deliver a memorable and one-of-a-kind experience.
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