How could virtual conference ideas possibly be fun? If you’re asking yourself this question, you may have fallen victim to the dreaded ‘boring virtual conference’ epidemic of 2020.
I feel your pain, as do many folks who have suffered through some pretty miserable virtual events. Contrary to popular belief, fun virtual conference ideas do exist… and they are not the elusive unicorns they seem to be!
As an experienced virtual conference facilitator, I’ve seen it all. The good, the bad and the ugly of online conferences have all moved across my screen. Figuring out how to get rid of the bad and the ugly experiences and ‘zoom’ – haha – into the fun ones is actually easier than you think.
To save you the trouble of scouring the internet, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite fun virtual conference ideas that will take you from yawning to smiling in no time. But before we dive into the specific ideas, let’s talk a little bit about why virtual events are so important, and how they work best.
One too many bad experiences could make it easy to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. But resist the urge. Your next conference should bring smiles back to faces and the feel of human connection back to your employees’ screens across the world.
Why Is A Virtual Conference Valuable?
- Connection – Your remote employees have been cooped up, separated and isolated for over a year now. Each and every one of them are craving more connection. It’s a biological imperative of the human heart and mind to seek community. Seeing faces and hearing voices on zoom may not seem like much, but for many of your employees this will be their only source of face-to-face contact with their co-workers. A chat in a zoom room or maybe a breakout for happy hour during a virtual conference can be a lifeline of connection.
- Motivation – Sitting alone with a computer and communicating via endless emails and conference calls can create a huge drain on energy levels. Getting face to face, even virtually, plugs your employees into the best energy source out there; each other. Once your employees plug in and charge up with some human interaction, they’ll be revitalized and motivated to work harder and smarter.
- Engagement – Virtual conferences, when executed properly, create engagement between your employees. Think breakout rooms and team building activities to foster engagement. Studies have shown that the more employees engage with one another, the more they engage with their work and with their company’s mission. Win win.
- Anticipation – Chances are your employees were really looking forward to their yearly trip to connect and unwind in Chicago, New York, Nashville or wherever your company typically meets. Everyone experienced a huge let down when their favorite trips and events were cancelled throughout 2020. Give your workforce back some of that feeling of excitement by creating something meaningful to look forward to.
- Goals – Your company still has an agenda on tap. A fun virtual conference can absolutely accomplish almost everything that you expected from your in-person company gathering. You’ll be able to meet your goals and engage your employees with your current mission statement, all from the comfort and safety of your own home.
Pro Tips To Bring The Fun
From keynote speakers, to team building activities, to breakout rooms for happy hour or small group meetings, you really can do it all during a virtual event. You’ll accomplish your goals, reconnect with your company mission and create interaction between your employees. Making it fun will ensure a high level of engagement.
- Don’t make your virtual conference all work and no play. Just because you’ve taken your operation online, doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be breaks for socializing and fun. Create breakout rooms for activities your employees can look forward to – like Happy Hour and catch-up chat sessions.
- Plan, plan and plan some more. Put the same amount of time and effort into planning your virtual conference as your in-person conference. It’s even harder to create spontaneous fun in the virtual world, so make sure you schedule some in some time for this.
- Incorporate team building. There are plenty of fun team building activities that work for even huge virtual conference groups. Team building activities are vital to the success of your workforce. Below are four of my favorite virtual conference activities that will engage and inspire.
4 Fun Virtual Conference Ideas
Now that we understand the whys and how’s, let’s talk about specifics for fun virtual conference ideas.
- Virtual Escape Rooms – If you’ve ever played the Escape Game, you know what fun this concept can be. Groups of employees will be ‘locked’ into a digital breakout rooms decked out in various themes ranging from Casino, to Zombie Apocalypse, to Jailbreak. Your employees will work together to solve various clues to unlock different levels of the escape room and eventually break free. The groups in each room will race against each other to see who can escape the fastest. The suspense is exciting, and engagement will be easily and naturally created as your employees collaborate to decode clues and break out of their rooms.
- Virtual Scavenger Hunt – Your large group is broken into small teams in breakout rooms where you’ll join a private game to get started. Hosts will send a series of challenges and requests to the breakout rooms. That Instagram of yourself with a vintage car, or the photo of your family at the flamingo zoo exhibit might be just the thing that pays off to win you the scavenger hunt. Your groups will be prompted to find items from your own home, photo collection, or digital presence to satisfy the scavenger hunt challenges. This is very doable from your remote locations and great from home offices. Each team will compete for the most amount of points over a 60 minute period. Let the games begin!
- Painting Session – This one will require a bit of preparation and the hiring of a painting facilitator. If you’ve ever been to a paint by numbers wine night, you know how engaging and enjoyable this activity can be. Start by finding a great facilitator that can lead your team through a virtual painting session. Ask the facilitator to provide you with a list of materials that your employees will need to successfully complete the painting activity. Send out your list of materials and invite your employees to combine this activity with a little happy hour cocktail. As a reward after a long day of virtual keynote speakers and meetings, your workforce can jump on this fun, low pressure painting session and sip adult beverages at the same time. Plus, everyone gets to finish the session with their own special creation.
- Team Building Through Song® – Yes, that’s my company’s program, so I admit to tooting my own horn here a little bit. However, with the success of our virtual team building programs during 2020, I can confidently say that we can make your virtual conference more fun and more productive.
— The song session virtual experience is broadcast from legendary recording studios and opens with a live music performance from Grammy award winning songwriters and seasoned session musicians. We create guided interaction and encourage active communication from all of your employees during the session as we create a custom song together.
— Using carefully created Q&A system built on in depth pre-program research, we create a unique plan for your session that involves a state-of-the-art audience response system to facilitate communication and interaction.
— As your employees engage with our facilitators through interactive polling and Q&A, we write an original song for your event in real time with the creative input of your workforce. Momentum builds as your employees contribute; choosing final lyrics and directing the flow of the song through their responses in the AR system.
— As the song evolves participation always seems to skyrocket. Your entire group, no matter how big, will feel invested in the final song lyric that emerges from this innovative input process. And you’ll leave with a powerful and lasting take-away, the recording of your original song.
Don’t let your employees down with another disappointing virtual conference. Intentional breaks for socializing, moments of connection, elements of team building, and plenty of opportunities for incorporating some fun virtual ideas are key to a successful event.