Planning an event might be so simple that anyone can do it. Pick a date, set a topic, and get an audience—easy enough, right? It might sound simple until you add in a layer of complexity that the digital world brings onto events. Through the pandemic, Button has continued to show support and involvement throughout the tech community with various meetups and virtual panels. Within engineering, it is important to always stay connected and network.
When I start brainstorming how to plan an event, especially a virtual one, I first start with laying out the goal for the event. For our internal Button events, the goal is for Buttonians to learn new skills and/or bond as a team. Recently, we hosted a happy hour with a coworker leading a conversation on the topic of the rights and restrictions which govern the power of police. This event gave our employees a platform for civic discourse as well as a safe place to bond. When considering an external Button event, the goal is to build our network and educate our audience on Button as a whole. Partnering with different sponsorships within the MeetUp community has worked well for our engineering team.
Where to start: From picking a topic to aligning on the format
When I start any planning for an event my first consideration is we can sponsor or host to create a successful event. Our most recent virtual event was a partnership with LIT (Latinas in Tech) that had a panel of different female engineers discussing how remote life has been working for them. This event grabbed a wide audience with the topic right away. As everyone is adjusting to a new form of working remotely, this topic was especially relevant to folks. The audience for this event flooded the chat box with questions for the speakers, which is amazing to see.
During this time of remote work, I have found that everyone is curious about how others handle working from home. How do they have their desk set up? What type of chair do they use? What do they do for a mental break? Naturally, I thought that a topic on Home Office Ergonomics would be a useful and relevant topic for our crowd. For internal Button events, we have started a “lunch Roulette” where folks can go on a Zoom call and share how they style their remote day and what set up they have at home. This appeals to a wide audience and gives folks the opportunity to ask questions and get multiple perspectives.
I have created a checklist that helps me stay organized and make sure everything is seamless to run a successful event.
Prior to the event:
- Setting a date, time, and topic that will appeal to a greater audience
- Decide what link will be used for the actual event: Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc.
- Send out calendar invite to the audience and panelists
- Spread the word every day leading up to the event
- Send out panel questions to all speakers
- Send out final email reminders
- Test the mic on your computer
- Meet with speakers a few minutes prior to the event time
- Make sure to record the event
- Send a follow-up thank you note with the recording
If it’s Zoom, was the link in the calendar? Did you test it prior to the event time? That is the most important part to any virtual event. I always send a few notes leading up to the day of the event to constantly remind folks that it is happening. In this case, it is acceptable to be a broken record. For any virtual event, you will want to test everything prior and be sure to have the speakers aligned with the events agenda. At Button, we have come to find Zoom is easy to navigate and even has breakout rooms for Q&A portions if needed. Finding what works for the crowd is a key essential to any virtual event. Similar to any event that is being recorded, do not forget to send the recording out for all those who were not able to make it following a virtual event! This way, you know folks can catch in on their own time.
I have learned over the past few months that it can be more challenging to grab and sustain the interest of folks when it comes to virtual events. Instead of being defeated by those thoughts, I have taken on the challenge and outlined this guide to plan my next virtual event—and I hope it comes in handy for others too. On to planning the next virtual event!
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