Exciting Stuff when you can’t have a Reception or Apéro

We frequently hear healthcare professionals signing off after a digital interaction with the comment. “We’re sorry, but we won’t be able to join you for a quick drink to finish the meeting as we normally would”… It has a wistful tone and is significant. We’ve all missed that relaxed moment to reflect on the day, as well as the gold dust of serendipity that comes from a casual conversation. It’s frequently where we form deeper, more lasting bonds.

So, what are your alternatives? There are a number of options available depending on the audience group (internal or external) and if it is appropriate to compliance policies.

For internal groups, one idea is to organize a cocktail-making half-hour, which is a lot of fun. Especially since kits can be sent out ahead of time. Meaning,  the physical, in the form of the kit, meets the virtual, in the form of the virtual meeting. With travel and “being in-person” relaxing in many parts of the world it means a prominent member of a leadership team can visit a studio with a mixologist, providing entertainment for those who like to cast this scene from the sofa to the TV; whether the notable person can mix or not (more usual), it doesn’t matter. Well, maybe to the prominent person it does! This is an excellent example of how television or WebTV tactics are finding their way into everyday digital encounters. When lockdown began, the cost of technology and its dependability simply did not exist.

How do we go about actually doing these things? Technologies such as #13 vMix and #21 OBS Studio provides us with amazing options for manipulating presenters, panelists, video, and other content into sophisticated programmes, but be aware that these platforms require experienced technicians. We simply couldn’t do it as cost-effectively in the early days of lockdown as we can now. The task now is to familiarise meeting stakeholders and presenters with all of the features available to them.

So, what does this all mean to the practical delivery of non-meeting activities? Well, this is simply one idea, focused on fun and replicating the idea of relaxing into an activity that makes you smile.

Techniques for Internal and external participants can merge, where compliance policies allow, in the use of #22 Remo or #23 Gatherly. Networking spaces for groups to gather quickly and flexibly as you would meet new people at the close of a meeting, a drinks reception, or a coffee break. It may take some time for participants to adjust to the format, just as it may take some time to locate meeting rooms on a floor plan, but when speakers and panelists are available to participants in less formal settings, this breakdown of perceived barriers occurs very quickly and can compensate, to some extent, for the lack of physical interaction. It all comes down to planning, mapping out what you want to achieve in terms of experience and content sharing, and then selecting the format and tools to meet and exceed these requirements. And, finally! Meeting stakeholders are increasingly open to the use of actors to combine meeting messaging with entertainment, as I mentioned earlier with the use of television tactics. Simply put, make the most of people who are experts at being in front of a camera. We were able to do this successfully prior to the pandemic with physical conference hosts, evening entertainment slots (for internal groups of course), and in-meeting room scenarios, scripted segments, and stage performances to highlight key messages. Despite the fact that it isn’t a technology, the transition from physical to virtual in this format has been much easier than it appears. Although cost and creative time may be a consideration for using actors for every digital interaction,the ROI factor can be compelling when you cleverly turn the tables on participants’ expectations” by bringing a staged drinks reception / apéro and similar activities, immersed in business messaging, into the virtual world.

Kayla Gaul
Account Manager

Click here to read part 4 “What do you do when there isn’t a physical flipchart?”

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