Jonathan Hazely is a director at one of the UK’s leading corporate team building businesses, Team Challenge Company; here, he shares his top considerations for those planning their first-ever virtual conference.

Seven top tips for planning an upcoming virtual conference

At Team Challenge Company HQ we are full of festive cheer at the moment delivering back-to-back Christmas themed remote team building events and entertainment. In a year which has reshaped the events industry, and been one of the most challenging many of us have ever faced, it is an honour to be supporting our clients to bring their remote teams together to have a shared positive experience.

The beginning of the vaccine roll out this week has given our events industry in Scotland a much-needed morale boost. While the uncertainty has led to conferences being booked later, it is now all go for virtual conferences for the first half of 2021.

Over the last 20 years, we have seen that the annual conference for our clients is one of their most important events of the year for providing an opportunity to celebrate successes, communicate goals and boost staff engagement levels. We believe that 2021’s conferences are needed now more than ever to begin to address staff feeling disengaged or demotivated following the pressures and changes experienced in 2020.

Since May we have delivered more than 300 live events for our UK clients and their workforces spread across Europe, the USA and Asia including Ernst & Young, Paddy Power, GSK and multi-national accounting firm RSM. So, for those planning to go virtual for the first time with their 2021

Q1 conference – here is what I have learned are the top seven considerations before you book:

  1. Technical: Consider which video conferencing platform works best for your organisation. Are teams more experienced with for example Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Webex and can your remote teams download apps on their work computers, tablets and phones or would they need to be able to access the entire conference and all activities via a website?
  2. Timings and schedule: In-person conferences by nature involve downtime, including switching sets between speakers and people travelling between rooms, virtual conferences can be high impact for shorter time periods. What was a weekend conference before may be possible in a single day or in short bursts across the course of a week.
  3. Live vs pre-recorded: live and pre-recorded segments both have their place. Some speakers, for instance, may feel more at ease if they can pre-record their presentations while others may perform better live. For ice-breakers and team building activities, in our experience, live and hosted activities give delegates a more exciting, engaging and memorable experience.
  4. Feedback: consider including live polling, to enable you to gain powerful insights and instant feedback on delegate engagement levels which will make for easy event reporting.
  5. Numbers: virtual conferences allow for almost unlimited numbers, recently we have delivered events for over 800 delegates, consider whether it would be beneficial to include those who it may not have been economically viable to invite to a previous event.
  6. Socialising: Creating opportunities for remote workers to socialise and network naturally during virtual conferences has been a significant concern for organisations and event planners. Consider including ice-breakers and entertainment sections, which allow workers to meet with others in a less formal way to help foster those all-important connections.
  7. Team Building: Consider choosing team building activities which specifically address the challenges of working from home. Virtual team building activities have evolved far beyond interactive quiz games. At Team Challenge Company, along with our network of global partners, we have developed 21 high-level team building activities which focus on improving communication, problem-solving and collaboration.

Find out more about Team Challenge Company’s virtual team building activities at www.teamchallenge-company.co.uk

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