“Community, n, \ kə-ˈmyü-nə-tē, a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.” (Merriam-Webster)
In its very essence, the word community speaks of building mutually beneficial networks, strong bonds, and lasting relationships. It also espouses the feeling of warmth and unity. With the pandemic still looming, can an enduring community grow out of a virtual landscape?
The Need for Physical Connection
It’s a well-known fact that humans are innately tactile creatures with everything we do. We almost always need to be able to engage all five senses for us to reach a certain level of comfort towards a person, place, or thing. Nothing beats the warmth a handshake or a hug adds to in-person interactions.
Now, at a time when cotton sheets cover our mouths, and a spray bottle of alcohol has been added to the daily essentials of most of the world’s population, the need for engaging our senses is now more of a want, a luxury. During this time when humans have come to terms with the fact that in-person events have pivoted to virtual and hybrid events, technology plays a crucial role.
Building A Community Through Your Computer Screens
When physical contact is not an option, the trick to encourage community building is making your attendees feel like they’re in an actual physical event.
Even before COVID-19 caught the whole world by surprise, tech companies have been forging new ways to bridge communication gaps by introducing apps or platforms that allow more efficient ways to conduct meetings, seminars, and the likes. When the pandemic struck, these apps’ roles have transitioned from being optional to essential in building a community. Engagement is the first step in starting a community. There are different ways to engage your audience virtually like: polling during live streams or games and competitions are just some of the tactics that will help event planners encourage their attendees to interact and forge networks within your event. These engagement strategies are effective ways to establish a strong foundation both for your event and your attendees.
Nurturing The Community You’ve Built
Once everyone has reached a certain level of familiarity towards each other, it’s time to leverage on this, and ensure that the rest of the day further strengthens the bonds between each member of your community.
Breakout meetings scattered within the day of the event are good ways to capitalize on these newfound relationships. With the host often monopolising the first part of the event, attendees rarely get the chance to know each other in a more in-depth manner. These siloed sessions provide a more candid and relaxed platform that stimulates personalised conversations among your attendees.
There are three key ingredients that will help ensure a successful breakout meeting: maintaining punctuality, seamless technology; and choosing a host with the right personality.
Firstly, time is of the essence in any event, that’s a given. Event planners should keep in mind that we only borrow a couple of hours from our attendees’ days, and we need to respect that. Breakout meetings are prone to going over time because of the interesting similarities your attendees may find out about each other, and we all know what happens when we find out about our common love for food, dogs, or what not. To ensure that everyone stays within schedule, a moderator, usually the host, should be mindful in giving out warnings about how much time is left. These reminders will help the members of each breakout group not only wrap up their conversations pleasantly, but also send a silent message to their dialogue partner that they are thoughtful of the others’ time.
Second, the platform you’ll use to conduct your breakout meetings on will also be an important choice to make when planning your event. This is especially true for purely virtual events. With the wide array of platforms to host your events on, canvas which one will best suit your events needs that will provide a streamlined flow of events when transitioning from your main assembly area to your breakout meetings. This is not to say that hybrid events shouldn’t prioritise which platform to host their breakout meetings on, but more emphasis is given to virtual events since digital is their only choice to build their community in.
Lastly, to complete the list of ensuring successful breakout meetings: selecting the right host. While others may think that this is a trivial matter, picking the person who will pretty much be orchestrating your entire event is rather tricky. Each event demands a specific personality. Choose a host who is perky for a vibrant event that needs someone who will maintain a refreshing atmosphere within each breakout group. For events that have a more serious tone to them, choose someone who can effortlessly blend in with that vibe. But in both cases, you will need someone who has an innate passion to host an event, and someone who is enthusiastic to attend to the needs of your attendees.
Sealing The Deal: Making Indelible Impressions on Your Community
Your community should not end after your event. As an event planner, you want to make your event one that all your community’s members will remember. The principle of customer service should not only be limited to sales and marketing practitioners; event planners should also take this into consideration when organising an event to forge a level of loyalty between your clients and their respective communities. There are a couple of ways for you to make a lasting impression on your attendees, some tricks of the trade include: virtual event goodie bags, home deliveries, or even photo booths.
Delegate PLAY: A Declassified Guide For Event Planners
If we were in a zombie apocalypse, we would need some sort of weapon, a backpack filled with food, and an endless amount of courage; but during a pandemic, an event planner needs only one thing—Delegate PLAY, your fully immersive virtual platform to host events and build connections. Now, building your community starts with a simple click of your mouse, and can happen in the comfort of your home.
This virtual one-stop-shop takes the word immersive to a whole new level. With tools like its live chat feature, virtual lobby, customisable notifications, exhibitor search bar, and networking lounge among others, attendees won’t have a hard time interacting all throughout your event.
Community building is a crucial aspect of any event. An event that establishes a loyal community is a testament to both the event’s effectivity, and the event planner’s ability to transcend the physical while utilising the virtual.