Ask this ONE question to transform your online event experiences

And crush “Zoom fatigue” like a bug on your home office window


By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster at No More Boring Meetings and Holli Catchpole, SpeakersOffice President

I have a question for you, event organizers. A question that will transform your virtual meetings.

Before you ask:

  1. What delivery platform is best?
  2. Who is the meeting for?
  3. What will the content look like?
  4. Which speakers shall we curate?
  5. Which wine might I pour for the Sip-and-Skype happy hour?!

….ask THIS: “What are we going to do together that can ONLY be experienced online?”

Only then can you deliver transformational online experiences for your invitees.

In my book, The Non-Obvious Guide to Event Planning (best how-to book of 2020 and Best Business Communications/PR book in 2019), and in teaming with my clients and industry colleagues, I’m all about asking better questions to generate better outcomes.

Using four key questions as early as possible in the planning process, we add discipline to event design and provide a clear, powerful content road map that leads to best-fit speakers and strategic, outcome-driven meeting content.

The most important: “What will we do together that can only be experienced LIVE?”

When events are virtual, the most critical question becomes:

What will we do together that can only be experienced ONLINE?”

This small but critical word swap ensures an entirely different—and infinitely better!—set of results for virtual events.

Zap! “Zoom fatigue” is squished like a bug on your home office window.

The visionary SpeakersOffice roster of speakers gets this. Completely. And that’s why their clients’ events are kicking ass in the virtual realm—whether the speakers’ segments are live or pre-recorded, for a small group of execs or a globally distributed audience of 30,000.

The following elements are impossible to produce in face-to-face meetings—they can only be experienced virtually.

Integrate one or more, and you’ll distinguish your organization’s meeting-in-the-matrix from all the others:

  • Crowd-sourced Q&A
  • Exploding, community- and buzz-building chat
  • Intimate conversations from compelling speakers’ living rooms
  • Engaging multi-media that maintains attention spans
  • Bring-the-house dance parties for everyone IN the house—slippers optional

A sampling of how speakers are integrating these elements:

Michelle Poler, comfort-zone crusher:

You think the virus is contagious?? Check out her energy, this-could-only-happen-online delivery, and the audiences’ responses.

Dr. Brené Brown, researcher and storyteller:

Pre-pandemic, getting a front row seat to a live, “unplugged” Brené Brown session would be all but impossible. Now, Brené’s consistently delivering exclusive, intimate “fireside chat” experiences online. Her audiences get a this-will-never-happen-again experience just for them (and not found on Netflix!).

Such an intimate gathering, though, can happen with any speaker. It’s all about the groundwork you lay, your willingness to get real, and allow your speakers to be unscripted and conversational.

Then watch your chat box burst with connection and belonging.

Pro tip: When pre-recording a segment with your speaker(s), do so no more than a week in advance, so that in this era of enormous, daily change, your speakers’ comments are as current as possible.

Amy Blankston, happiness guru:

The problem with most Q&A is that a tiny number of people get their questions answered. While the rest zone out.

But when you ask, “What are we going to do together that can ONLY be experienced online?,” add speaker Amy Blankston, plus, and you aggregate and crowd-source 3,000 participants’ questions, you get only the most desired queries floating to the top.

Bingo: BIG engagement because this type of virtual Q&A is as relevant as possible to the masses.

Sally Hogshead, Fascination Expert.

How do you make virtual….fascinating? Speaking Hall of Famer Sally Hogshead knows exactly how. Speaking to a virtual audience of 8,000, Sally employed 7 costume changes while the expert production crew managed multiple screens with script and slides, plus comments from the live chat piped into Sally’s ear, along with a print out of visual cues to show upcoming slides. Collectively, it was a virtual production experience at its finest!

Dr. Tasha Eurich, leadership & self-awareness expert.  

Usually, a downside of large virtual events is the inability for audience members to see and hear each other—and for speakers to see and hear their audiences.

But when Dr. Tasha Eurich presented recently, the producers simultaneously unmuted and made visible hundreds of participants to welcome Tasha to the “stage.” For a few moments, they could yell and clap and share their enthusiasm. Everyone was again unmuted and visible for a raucous, collective close.

Just like that, everyone’s engaged and tuned in, while the speaker feels—and is—seen and heard…. as she rides a wave made of palpable energy emanating from the screen.

So, what WILL your attendees do together that can only be experienced ONLINE?

Let’s talk about the possibilities. Together, we’ll keep all the bugs away!