Ideas to transform your 2021 kick off into a virtual event

With the work-from-home trend continuing into 2021, our reliance on the virtual world will remain at the forefront. Virtual event platforms and digital tools have become instrumental in maintaining team cohesion and collaboration.

January 25, 2021

- 3 min read

With the work-from-home trend continuing into 2021, our reliance on the virtual world will remain at the forefront. Virtual event platforms and digital tools have become instrumental in maintaining team cohesion and collaboration. However, managers have been left puzzled about how they will effectively communicate company goals and engage their employees at the same time. Will a simple Zoom meeting suffice? What team building activities can you do online? 

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are 5 ideas on how to motivate and engage your team with a virtual kick off. 
 
1.  Find yourself multiple speakers 
If you are usually custom to solely having your Big Boss up on a Live Stream telling you how excited he is for the coming year… well… I can already see Carl switching his mic and video off in the top right corner. The truth is: we want to hear more from different people – not saying that your boss is not a natural entertainer, but we just want more! You can maybe start by inviting additional speakers to share their experience and how they usually do things with their teams. Don’t forget to invite the odd CTO, the strange tech enthusiast who usually cracks a couple of awkward jokes. That usually gets the crowd going.  In many cases, those farfetched, highly ranking executives, will be on different time zones. But that is not an issue anymore, they can easily upload a video recording which you can then add to your presentation. The key here is to maximize your reach thanks to the digital tools you have. Invite more speakers and let them help you in getting the right message across to your audience. 
 
2.  Put the decision makers in the hot seat 
While you have them up on the screen, it is time to reverse the roles and make them do some of the hard work. Challenge the decision makers of your organization to answer some of the hot topics. As they will share the stage, you will be able to interact and ask questions (which can be upvoted or downvoted), make them comment on live polls, or simply react with emoticons when one of them slips up! During one of the events held on our platform, teams were asked to bet on their performance with different departments for the upcoming Quarter. For example, the Sales team made a deal with the Marketing team that if they exceeded their sales conversion rate by 5%, the marketing department had to pay for their team’s trip to Cancun. There are so many ways to spin this. You will be surprised and amused to see your bosses confronted with on-the-spot decision making.  
 
3.  Learning can still be fun
Now that everybody is awake, and that Carl is more engaged than ever, schedule some virtual team bonding exercises. Whatever the difficulty or format of the exercise; whether that is a hair-pulling, keyboard-crushing, screen-braking, solution finding exercises based on a morality pulled out of the book ‘Thinking, fast and slow’ (which we highly recommend), or a simple collaborative and creative workshop. Create breakout rooms, randomize the participants, throw in a moderator, and let your team find solutions or debate about key themes and topics which are related or not to your business. Invite the teams on stage to then present their results. They can upload supporting files to the session if needed. If you want to make things more interesting, allocate some points based on your audience’s vote. This will link in nicely with the leaderboard (read the last point about gamification).
 
4.  Alternate between different types of content 
Following your action-packed morning, you are going to want to give your attendees a ‘breather’. Think of this as your virtual coffee breaks during the day. During this time, you can enable the chat and networking features. This should allow the speakers/managers to have an online meeting on the side while the rest of the participants can mingle. Entice your team to share pictures about previous events in the year; corporate parties, team dinners, pictures of your dog (more people are interested than you think). While they laugh about memories and awkward situations they were confronted with in the past, ‘plug in’ a live DJ or band and experience how music can contribute to what first was an only ‘visual event’. 

5.  Nothing gets you going like a little bit of competition 
Now that you have personalized everyone’s agenda, we suggest you turn up the heat (if your built-in fans can sustain it!). Throughout each session, you can allocate points to different teams or attendees.  Prior to the event, you would simply need to define the rules and structure of your gamified feature to track your audience’s engagement (through questions, polls, uploaded content…). New starters in the team? Encourage conversation and connection by awarding points for colleagues that arrange meetings with new team members. You will see that when your attendees are confronted with a leaderboard, they will most likely play along and compete – especially if you are giving out prizes to the winners. Go Carl! 

Whether your kickoff is only a couple hours long or whether it lasts 2 days, whether you’re only 10 people or 2000, make sure you think of creative ways to engage with your audience. As you transform your kickoff event to a virtual format, make sure it is not a hassle for your participants to log in and out of different platforms and that your event WiFi is up to scratch – you don’t want a glitchy experience! Rather than using Zoom for your videoconference, Slido for your Q&As, and Kahoot for your gamified polls, you might want to look at using an all-in-one event management platform.  

Charlotte Woodward

@CharlotteLR_W
Event Manager

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