As a coach, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to move forward in the midst of a pandemic. If you had told me a year ago that we would still be in the midst of this space, wondering when things would get back to the way they used to be a whole year later….I don’t think I would have been able to accept that. Yet, here we are. I’m not sure that life will ever be the same for all of us. But I can say that we are still thriving!
In my professional life, I used to be an event planner for hotels. My market was social events and churches. I met with many families planning 50th birthday parties, baby showers, and churches that were no longer using the church hall for their pastor’s anniversary. It’s a skill I learned that became extremely useful. In fact, for 17 years (with the exception of 2020) I planned weekend retreats and seminars with my mother (who is a pastor) for her women’s ministry. In fact, when I started my coaching business in 2007, working with groups was always a part of what I did. But what about now?
The coronavirus causes us all to take a pause and rethink the methods we use with coaching. If you are a person that prefers the in-person event, the good news is that things are opening up in many countries and there can be modified ways to have your in-person events and retreats.
However, for those who are still uncomfortable with public gatherings – the only other way to host groups would be to do it online. I know – it’s not the same – but it can still be great! For the first time in my life – everything that I do (for work) is done within the walls of my house. I LOVE THAT!!!! But I am one of those extroverted introverts – so of course, it works for me. I want to offer you a new way to help your clients in what continues to be the climate of a pandemic. If you are interested in hosting your own online events or retreat then keep reading for 6 great tips that can help your gathering be a success.
Go ahead – have an online event or retreat!
Keep them engaged!
One of the things you always want to do is keep people engaged. But how do you do that online? There are several ways. When people walk into a meeting they come with everything that is on their mind. I’m a big proponent of bringing people together – to capture a mindset. In a corporate meeting, I would use an icebreaker. But in an event, I love to use a short meditation and/or a moment of intent. Keep in mind that online you still need to have breaks and moments to transition. You can keep people engaged by playing music, playing a game, or even just a moment of stretching or dancing! Of course, you can always have an intermission. Hey, it’s your event and you can do whatever you want.
Another way to keep people engaged is through prizes. It doesn’t matter what the prize is, people like to WIN! So grab a few prizes and think of a creative way for people to win them.
Don’t forget about branding.
When you have an online event or retreat, you need to treat it with the same respect that you would an in-person event. Don’t forget your branding. Have a virtual background with your logo or one that suits your brand. If you don’t like backgrounds, ensure that what people see behind you represents your brand well. The tone of your event should be what people have come to expect from your brand or better. I don’t always wear my glasses – but when I do – they are BOLD!. I figure if they are going to be on my face they need to be worth looking at. Wear something with your logo or have it on the cup that you are drinking from. And send a cup to all of your presenters so they can use it on screen as well! Lastly, ensure your guests can easily obtain your contact information (a banner at the bottom of the screen is great).
Speaking of banners – be sure to use technology wisely – or find someone that can.
Spice up your event with collaboration
So I’ve mentioned presenters a few times. This is the time to COLLABORATE! There are all kinds of coaches and speakers out there that can be a perfect match for what you are trying to do with your online event or retreat. Bring in some experts that can present a topic. Your audience will appreciate it. Additionally, each presenter will want to assist in the marketing of the event. (YES!) And they can add something to the workbook that you will offer to your attendees. Whether you pay them or you barter (you do my event and I will do yours) is completely up to you. There is room for everyone, so don’t be afraid to add a few experts to your agenda.
Ensure you have a test run.
Having an online event or retreat is not something you want to do without a test run. You don’t have to do the entire event at one time, however, you should meet with each presenter at least once, along with the person that is managing the technology, and go through their presentation. Not only do you want to ensure it runs smoothly – it will be helpful for you to actually know what they are presenting. Remember – you are the one that is responsible for the flow of your event. Let’s handle the glitches. Also, when doing your test run, consider recording a mini-interview to use in your marketing. It will garner a lot of interest and possibly increase sales. Let’s give people a reason to hit the share button on your marketing piece.