Even thinking about hosting an in-person meeting during a pandemic is quite overwhelming, but sooner or later, it will become a necessary reality. And with the increase in virtual events, it’s more important than ever to ensure your event stands out from the rest. For either scenario, it is critical that your organization can create the best experience possible – virtually or in-person – for your guests. To help you uphold a high level of service and hospitality while keeping social distancing and safety precautions at the forefront, we’ve compiled the below tips that will help drive success.
Understand the transition to virtual meetings, know your technology, and match the needs of the audience.
Right now, virtual meetings are a must, but so is the need for stable bandwidth, reliable platforms, good lighting and acoustics, and up-to-date devices. Your event must support the technological needs of your audience now more than ever. To do so, be sure to keep these in mind:
- Removing travel and enabling your audience to attend events from the comfort of their own home can ultimately increase the overall number of attendees. However, you must be intimately familiar with the capacity of your virtual event and understand how to add more bandwidth than needed to accommodate a last-minute influx of attendees. Planning for 100 attendees? Create bandwidth for 200.
- Attendee engagement is a priority. Utilize polls and live Q&A functions to ensure your attendees are engaged during the event. For larger events, hosts can leverage breakout sessions to promote more intimate conversations. Some platforms also offer unique networking capabilities to provide attendees similar benefits and experiences to in-person events. All of these, taken together, will extend the value of your event to all attendees.
- Consider staging your event offsite, where you have panelists either stream live from a studio or pre-record sessions. That way you can work with professionals who can manage and execute the event for you, so you can ensure your event runs smoothly and has the same level of professionalism as an in-person event would.
- Always have a backup plan for when technology fails – since it inevitably will – and try to create redundancy in your technology. For example, have multiple Wi-Fi connections available, multiple streaming sources, and several tech experts available to test and re-test your audio-visual technology.
When planning an in-person meeting, it’s critical to ensure the safety and well-being of your participants and adhere to local guidance and state regulations.
We’re living through an unprecedented pandemic that has dynamically shifted all aspects of planning and hosting a meeting. While virtual meetings have become the norm and will likely remain a core element of business for some time, there are ways to execute a successful, socially distant, in-person gathering. Here are some steps to consider:
- Move forward cautiously and in a phased approach that comply with local and state regulations, but also fit well with your organization’s culture.
- Implement early crisis planning in the scenario that someone on-site tests positive for COVID-19 to mitigate, in advance, last-minute emergency management.
- Provide modified room configurations with chairs spaced apart to adhere to social distancing requirements and keep a record of all guests and where they sat.
- Re-evaluate food service and delivery in common areas and meetings to reduce and remove contact points.
- Require a mask whenever participants are not within an assigned seat.
- Communication is key! Communicate with participants, site managers, and catering teams to maintain transparency across the board about service expectations and safety.
It is safe to say that more due diligence is required to ensure that you’re doing all you can to ensure the safety of your employees, vendors, and event attendees in this new era. But events and meetings will not slow down or stop, they will only continue to evolve, whether virtually or in-person.
If you’re interested in having a consultation about hosting events virtually or on-site at the MassBioHub Conference & Business Center, you can learn more about virtual meeting services by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting https://hub.massbio.org/.