How to throw a virtual party for your global team
1. Create a game plan
Whether big or small, offline or online, every event should have a strategy. Start with a key goal and concept, then take it from there. This year’s theme was “Around the world with Quadmark”. What worked well for the planning of the Virtual Summer Party was that the core organizing team had already put together a “single source of truth” deck containing the event’s concept and design identity. It was then shared with organizers based in other regions, making it easier for everyone to stay on the same page despite geographical and time zone differences.
So before organizing a virtual event, ask yourself the following questions:
What kind of experience do you hope to deliver?
How much time do you have to plan for this event?
What is the budget?
Which time zones does your event need to cover?
Will there be a theme for the event?
Will the event be live, on-demand, or both?
Where do you want the content to be seen?
When is the best time for the event?
How will you promote the event?
Will people still have access to the event once it’s over?
What KPIs and data do you plan to track?
2. Calling all experts!
Now that you have a solid foundation to start with, it’s time to divide and conquer. Think about which members of your team would best be able to accomplish (and enjoy) tasks related to planning the event. Or better yet, put it out there! Be specific about what you need help with, and ask for a show of hands. Who knows, you might just have team members from different regions who are experts or have hobbies in line with your event’s theme.
3. Send out the invites at least 1 month ahead
Not only is it exciting to receive a “Save the date” email, but it also gives everyone enough time to give clients a heads up that they will be unavailable that day due to a work engagement.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Send out the invites one month ahead
- Share the event agenda as soon as possible so that your audience knows what to expect
- Block out the event date on the company calendar for your attendees
- Send “countdown” email reminders one or two weeks before the event
4. Be accommodating of every time zone
The most challenging part of organizing a global-wide event is deciding on a time. With Quadmarkers living across several continents around the world, our events team had to be strategic about planning the agenda.
Recognizing that anything more than a six hour time difference between attendees is going to be challenging to execute, they broke up the events in a way that made more sense for each region, time-wise. Some compromises in scheduling were made in order to have all Quadmarkers from the UK, USA and APJ regions present during the global town hall call. The rest of the agenda was then tailored according to each team’s location and time zone. For instance, the Singapore team held activities in the afternoon, and went back online later in the evening to join everyone for the global call.
While planning your global event, take it a step further by including the different time zones on your agenda. Anywhere you share an agenda you should explicitly list times in all relevant time zones for organizers and attendees. Not only will it avoid confusion, but your team will also appreciate the thoughtfulness.
5. Buffer enough time for breaks
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget about taking breaks during virtual events. Buffer in break times in between so your audience can be fully present for all the exciting things you have lined up for them! Having 15-30 minute breaks between activities is a great way to keep the pace.
- Who are you organizing the event for?
- What activities might they be interested in?
- Are there any dietary requirements to consider?
For instance, we have a lot of wine aficionados in the UK. So inviting Oz Clarke as our celebrity guest for the wine tasting activity was a huge hit! In the US, everyone enjoyed the mixology class conducted by the talented cocktail makers at Cul+ure Collective. Those based in Singapore and Australia absolutely loved the hands-on leather crafting workshop by Crafune. And last but not least, a common activity that Quadmarkers from all regions enjoyed was the Murder Mystery in Ancient Egypt, hosted by the awesome facilitators from TeamBuilding.com.
If you’re hiring a facilitator, doing a test run is a great way to see if their facilitation aligns with the theme that you’re going for during the event. Better safe than sorry!
7. Camera on, Mute off
Sometimes, virtual events can feel like just another meeting, so encourage audience participation whenever you can. For instance, during the Global all hands gathering, everyone was asked to come off-mute and clap for each other. According to a Quadmarker, “It felt amazing to feed off of each other’s energy! For a while there, I forgot that I was sitting in front of a screen.”
And remember, check your tech. If physical events have hitches, virtual events have glitches. Before kicking things off, test your Internet connection - and have your speakers and facilitators do the same. Prepare backups of visuals and presentations in case a file goes wonky. If possible, run a rehearsal. The sooner you identify problems, the sooner you can identify solutions.
Here are some of the platforms we used:
- Slido: We used this to hear from Quadmarkers around the world as we engaged them with fun questions using quick polls.
- Google Meet: For our Global all hands gathering and other activities.
- Zoom: Which was where the Ancient Egypt Murder Mystery activities were hosted, thanks to the breakout room feature.
If they can’t make it to the party, bring the party to them!
Now, if you have people in your audience who live in different places around the world, this part would require more planning. Fret not! Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan for the party packs:
- Are the goods included in the party pack perishable?
- How will you get them to your audience in time?
- Is your audience spread across different countries and time zones?
- Is there enough stock for the amount of people during the event?
- Are there lead times to be considered for things you need to order in advance?
9. Conduct a debriefing session
This is a meeting with your team where you carefully deconstruct and analyze the event. This is where you put everything on the table and ask “How did we do?” A thorough and honest debriefing session will help you identify what went right, what went wrong, and what could be done better next time.
In the same way that it’s important to debrief with your team, it matters just as much to ask the audience what they thought of the event. Some questions you could ask are:
- What went well?
- Did you prefer a different time for the event to take place?
- Did you find the goodie bag useful?
- Did you prefer a GC over a goodie bag?
- Was there anything you felt was lacking?
- What are the activities you would prefer to have for the next event?
The party must go on
While organizing a global-wide virtual event (in the midst of a pandemic) is no small feat, it’s not impossible. Take it from our event experts who managed to pull it all off, in style.
Learn more about how you can host your next virtual business event on a global scale. Get in touch to see how Quadmark can help you.
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