Engaging summits in the shadow of Corona

On March 19th, Workz hosted an online symposium on the challenges of organising engaging virtual events. The symposium had originally not been about virtual events, but because of the Covid-19 lockdown we decided to change the topic and talk about virtual events instead.

The video above is a recording of the plenary stream, including the presentations by Workz and the plenary Q&As.

After this we went into virtual breakout rooms to continue the discussion. This was not recorded, but here are some of the take-aways from the dialogue: 

  • Dare to virtual fast: We need to fail fast, learn from it and implement these learning in our virtual ways of working. Both when it comes to our daily routines and when it comes to larger summits. 
  • We need to understand and learn from younger generations that are accustomed to building relationship either fully online or with a major virtual component. 
  • When the Covid-19 crisis is over we will experience two trends going in opposite directions: On the one hand, organizations will have become a lot better at working virtually and will continue to do it more in the future. On the other hand, there will be a huge appreciation of the benefits of face-to-face meetings and what they can deliver. 
  • No matter the size of the summit or meeting we need to be mindful of the social aspect. Of creating little rituals and touch points that can create connections between people. 
  • Online meetings – especially with many participants – are energy draining and it can be hard to keep a sufficient level of concentration. We need to have this in mind when designing virtual summits. 
  • Accountability and commitment are even more important in a virtual setting to make sure that the participants actually focus on the summit – instead of being pulled away by daily operations – and that they follow up on action points when the summit is over. HR has an increasingly important role in creating anchoring after a virtual summit.  
  • Online facilitation skills need to be developed in many organizations. Both in structuring workshop formats and in checking in and facilitating discussions in break out groups. 
  • In the current situation virtual meetings, workshops and summits are also a forum for participants to talk about their frustrations and to know that they are not alone in this. A way to feel heard and connected. 
  • Collaboration and alignment will be a huge theme in the coming months. A lot of organizations are used to collaborating in person, but how can we improve virtual collaboration while also maintaining alignment on decisions even though we do not see each other?
  • Another theme is to not get away from long-term strategic thinking even when putting out the fires in daily operation from Covid-19 and isolation measures. 

A big thanks you to all the participants who shared their perspectives and asked good questions.

We have a series of articles in the pipeline on this topic, and will link to them as soon as they are ready.

While you wait, you can read this article by Anders Skovgaard-Winther on The five challenges of virtual events. It was written last year when virtual summits was still something exotic that a few companies was contemplating.