Events and Corona: Fighting reality or finding alternatives?

POSTED ON12 Mar 2020 TIME TO READ3 minutes, 40 seconds

5 Suggestions on how to approach meetings and events in Corona times

It is evident. The value of an event is meeting others in person: peers, like-minded professionals and inspiring new contacts. The exchange of glimpses, the tone of voice and the well-known handshake. It all contributes in building trust and fostering current and new relations.

Yet, Corona is challenging all of us these days in finding new ways of connecting and sharing. Instead of fighting reality, finding alternatives can help us to keep a positive and constructive focus on the important themes that we deal with in our daily profession. I’m therefore happy to share 5 suggestions with you:


Facilitate smaller group sessions:

“An event is as good as its audience”. With that, most of us like to see large audiences showing up at the event venue. However, a smaller audience size often allows a better and in-depth dialogue around your event topic. The smaller the audience, the more comfortable individual attendees feel to speak up and to share valuable experiences.

Corona thought challenge:

Can you break down your large audience, divide the attendees into smaller groups and host them in-house or in smaller event venues?

If so, offer this last-minute option to your attendees and facilitate these small sessions in different regions. Appoint in-house or professional facilitators to lead the small sessions. Use the outcomes in online publications or save them for your big event on a later and Corona-free moment in time.


Host a digital talkshow:

Since you’ve already booked your speakers and your venue, why not turn the individual speaker slots into a talk show that is moderated by your event moderator? Within a compact time frame you can discuss the theme and with that the different speaker perspectives in the actual event venue.

By recording the talk show you can livestream it to your attendees now being at home. They can watch it via your event website or through social media. Alternatively, you can also use the video content to send it to the attendees via a mailing.

Corona thought challenge:

Are your speakers willing to meet for a talk show, instead of a regular speaking slot and presentation?

If so, craft a setup and script together with your moderator and meanwhile inform your audience to stay home and welcome them virtually for an online talk show.


Engage [stronger] during online meetings:

A logical alternative for onsite meetings and events, are of course online settings like Skype and Webex, whereby we can meet digitally. What many of us don’t know are the extra features that can be applied to foster the sense of engagement during these online meetings.

A tool like Sendsteps allows us to reply to polls, to ask questions to speakers, to build a word cloud or to even play a quiz. All of that from behind your smartphone and/or computer. The PowerPoint integrated tool can easily be combined with all major and online meeting platforms or during the livestream of your smaller sessions [see suggestion 1] or digital talkshow [see suggestion 2].

Corona thought challenge:

Can you schedule your online meeting around a number of statements?

E.g. for an online meeting of 60 minutes, use 40 minutes to cover two well-formulated statements. First show the statement and let the online audience cast their vote, then ask the specialists on how they think the online audience has reacted: show the vote results and proceed with a valuable discussion. After 20 minutes, bring up the next statement and repeat the same pattern. Although remotely and far away, for sure all online attendees will feel more engaged!


Re-think your event lead time

Now that you might need to postpone your event, you might as well exploit the span of attention already present with your speakers, event team and audience. Digital snippets can consist of e.g. short video interviews with speakers, blogs covering experiences from attendees or Insta stories to share news. This online content can be generated and used in the meantime. That is, on the road to the new event date.

Corona thought challenge:

What digital content can you think of, between now and your new event date, that can build up to your event later this year?

Schedule it, produce it and share it and see how your original event day transforms into a momentum. Within a specific period short, inspiring and online contact moments are used to plug your upcoming event. Your event is ‘just one’ out of the many contact moments. Even after the event, the story can be continued.


Proceed with your event?

Fact checking and the consultation with your national and local authorities, might give you a more reasonable perspective than what media covers [and sometimes hypes] on the Corona situation in your region. Once conditions are safe, you can take additional steps in ensuring the best event hygience conditions possible:

  • Review hygiene standards with your location manager
  • Room setup with plenty of space between the seats
  • Sufficient availability of paper towels and hand cleanser
  • Agree a code of conduct with your audience before the event takes place: No handshakes, caughing in your arm, washing hands and no use of catchboxes

As such, ensure proper, timely and clear information so that attendees can make their own well-informed decision.

Corona thought challenge:

How severe is the Corona situation in your region and that of where most of the attendees will come from: can you fact-check sufficiently with your official authorities?

If it is safe, then proceed with strict safety and hygiene precautions and make, given the conditions, the most out of your event. Nonetheless be aware that with the virus spreading obviously most people might decide to not join the event. As long as authorities don’t prohibit events, then it is up to you and your visitors. For more info on the Dutch situation, please also consult the information on the “De Eventmanager“.

The Corona virus challenges us to the max. However, where possible: can we turn the situation into a creative learning? The human touch is in the end always the most inspiring element during an event. But the question is: what to do in the meantime? Who knows how new approaches can develop over time in long lasting and sustainable meeting opportunities.

Regardless Corona: I wish you meetings, small or large, offline or online, that will keep inspiring you and above all: keep you safe and healthy!

Please feel free to reach out to me and discuss the options for your planned and upcoming event. Besides advice, I can also assist you in connecting you with professional partners in digital and livestream communication.