Design Tips for Online Events

Uncategorized Feb 02, 2021

Check out our video of this blog on YouTube!

Good event design is the scaffolding that the success of your online events hang on. From the moment people book into your event you need to consider how to design the event experience. Lets talk about three key design tips to making your events engaging so your attendees want to contribute

Number 1 - Open the Meeting up Ahead of Time

Consider opening up the meeting ahead of time.  Anything that delays the start of an online workshop eats into the precious time that is allocated to learning and discussion. People arriving late and tech issues can really disturb the flow of your event.

In addition, people crave casual conversations and connections outside of the meeting. The extra time ahead of the event allows people to get to know one another in casual conversations and settle into the space. As facilitators we sometimes need to act as tech support as people struggle with infrastructure and software tool problems. Opening the meeting ahead of time gives you time to deal with those issues. 

Offer to open up your workshop 10-15 minutes before the start.

Then send a reminder 1 hour before the meeting that you will be there. Everyone is incredibly busy bouncing from meeting to meeting these days that this just in time reminder really works.

A good tip is that if your event has more than 10 people, get a co-faciliatator to handle the tech issues. 

Number 2 - Good Time Management

Time in online events is different! Everything takes just that bit longer than in a physical face to face workshop

Good time management is also important to not overload or bore people , with too long monologues over slides, keep the flow of the workshop going and finish on time. Good time management matters for engagement. Structure events with a mix of lectures by slides, discussion, online collaboration and quiet reflection. 

Create a facilitator guide where each section is defined by key learnings, purpose, step by step instructions and which toolset is being used.  Write the key timings large on a board or highlight in your guide and have a timer going on your phone.

Aim for a 5-7 minute section rule. Change something every 5-7 minutes moving smoothly through the sections in your facilitator guide. This will keep your event attendees engaged and interested all along the way.

Number 3 - Icebreakers and Popcorn
I absolutely love icebreakers, they ensure that everyone is being seen and heard an brings a distributed group together. They are also an excellent tech check at the beginning of a meeting for people to test their sound and their video. But even more so, they drive engagement and conversation. It has been proven that people who have spoken once in a workshop are more likely to speak again.

Here is a tip though. Always make it safe for people to skip the icebreaker so they don’t feel forced to speak. Its an invitation – not a must. Lastly lets talk about popcorn! The popcorn facilitation technique combines so well with an icebreaker.

Simply, each attendee is responsible for choosing the next person to speak. Not you, which frees you up to watch what is going on. It keeps people on their toes and makes people pay attention to who is speaking, what is being said, and who has not yet spoken and forces people to learn names!

So how do you start that? Just explain the process quickly, that they are responsible for choosing the next person to speak. Start it off by selecting the first person and fade out of the conversation.

Here is a tip though, if your group is large you may have to help them on who has and hasn’t spoken yet by encouraging people to put up their hand and say hi, pick me I've not spoken. That can work really well and also takes the pressure off, this is meat to break the ice not scare people off. 

So in summary here are our three tips!

  1. Opening the meeting up ahead of time, get the technical issues fixed and be ready to properly start
  2. Event Time Management via a facilitator guide that you actively use during the session
  3. Use icebreakers to get the conversation going and the popcorn technique warm people up.

Use these three in your next event and see how it changes your event engagement

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