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  • Héctor A. Venegas

Meeting Design in a virtual setting?

The last couple of weeks and days have been treating the meetings and events industry badly.

Major and minor events have been cancelled, postponed and re-organized.

Small and medium companies are struggling to survive in a changed surrounding, where a virus and especially the panic resulting from it, have brought our industry to a standstill.

Whoever you speak to within the industry has a story to tell, about travel regulations, that have changed, budgets that have been frozen and cancellations that someone has to pay for.

The word is out, that a situation like the one we have, will not be the last one. And no one knows for how long this will last until we are back to normal. Will we be back to normal or will our perception of normal have changed.

It is time we start thinking and discussing how to react on these situations accordingly. What to do and what not to do.

One thing is for sure. We will rethink the way we do meetings and events and we will embrace the solutions that have been there for long years and integrate them into our design.

The possibility to live-stream a meeting and to shift from face-to-face towards virtual meetings has been there for a long time. Whenever we thought about these solutions, this was more a result of sustainability or economic reasons, rather than the threat of spreading diseases.

No matter which of these reasons will be the one that drives you most for future meetings or events, the use of virtual meetings will increase significantly.

So, does Meeting Design apply, when people are sitting in front of a computer screen?

Oh YES!! I would definitely say so.

If we want to achieve the objectives, we usually would with a face-to-face meeting or event with the means of a virtual meeting, we have to make sure this is designed accordingly.

For sure, you have been in the situation, attending a webinar and doing several things at the same time which took more or less of your attention. We don't want that to happen, do we?

Thinking that the virtual replacement of a face-to-face meeting would be merely using the suitable streaming technology, is not enough. We have to make sure to design a good dramaturgy and flow and actively involve the participants, even if they are not on site.

Sessions, presentations, talks etc. would all have to be shorter in time. The bits and pieces of the event or meeting have to be arranged smartly not to lose the once attracted attention of the participant.

It is important to set clear rules on how to attend. Be it alone or in small teams. We have to design and know how large the teams are, to make sure we cater for their needs.

Breaks are important although they can’t be too long, as the longer the breaks are, the more we risk losing the participants.

We have to have several facilitators, one that facilitates the whole meeting or event and some that are in constant dialogue with the participants to make sure every opinion or question is heard.

The list goes on…

As you can see the need for designing these virtual meetings and events might be different then a face-to-face meeting, but nevertheless crucial for the success.

Try it! You will see how it works!

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