In the past several weeks, the team at XCHANGE has hosted online events for hundreds of participants. Every time we run an event, our team advances our own learning on how to most effectively deliver this work in the online environment. This enables us the opportunity to review, assess and retool how we run these online experiences, to make them even more powerful for the groups we serve.
We certainly don’t have it all figured out and I’d venture to guess that few actually do, as there’s new things to learn everyday about how to best function in this new online, digital “work from home” environment.
Last week XCHANGE hosted its first ever Online XCHANGE Experience where 100 Leaders, Coaches, Consultants and Change Agents came together online for connection and learning. Here’s what some of them had to say about the experience:
“The most successful, virtual event I have attended with the most engagement among attendees!”
“If you want to stretch your thinking, create connection and build a community of impact… THIS is the workshop you want to attend!”
“Today filled my toolbox with so many tools, ideas and insights…”
“I’ve learned skills that are exactly what I need to help my business survive and serve at a higher level!”
How was the XCHANGE team able to create significant levels of engagement over the 2.5-day training, ultimately receiving a 9.88 out of 10 rating?
Here are a few of the special ingredients that have helped us create successful online events. XCHANGE continues to offer regular experiential introductions to our approach and training via the Online XCHANGE Experience is sold out for May, but available again in June.
1) Live Music
At XCHANGE, we’re fortunate enough to have an amazingly talented musical facilitator who starts each of our sessions with high energy music and positive messaging. We actually get people up and out of their seats, dancing and moving in front of the cameras. It’s super important to recognize that people are spending more and more time indoors, sitting in front of a screen. It’s a non-negotiable for us to get people up, change their physiology and allow connection with each other through music.
You may not have access to a live musician, but I bet if you did some outreach you’d be able to find some willing participants. Musicians and other artists are one of the populations that have been hit especially hard by social distancing and are looking for ways to move their music online and generate partnerships.
In lieu of live music, a carefully curated Spotify playlist will also level up your online event. Consider playing light background music before the event starts, during breaks and throughout activities depending on how you manage the delivery of content. Electronic Study Music (ESM) is a good list for light background music. We offer training on best ways to use music during facilitation online and in-person.
2) Everyone’s a Speaker!
What’s the measure of a great event? It may sometimes be subconscious, but often the ability to speak and have your voice heard is the measure of a “good event” in the mind of participants. At XCHANGE, we realize that everyone who attends our events (online or in-person) has valuable insight and real world experience that enables powerful learning. Our activities leverage this in a very immersive and deeply impactful way.
The choreography of our agendas moves participants into small group discussions very quickly. Often, my goal as a facilitator is not to speak, but to create the container for participants to reflect on a powerful question and then share learning with each other through small group dialogues. Next, I invite voices from the whole group to share and amplify the biggest takeaways and most powerful learning with the whole community.
The XCHANGE approach enables us to engineer these conversations and experiences with great precision and repeatability, every time. Our ability to engage all participants in the dialogue of an event and share their own real world experience as a form of learning is a very powerful differentiation for us in a world where most online experiences are largely passive and don’t actively engage the audience.
3) Set Expectations
This is something that we’ve been paying attention to from the beginning, starting with our in-person events. Through our recent depth of experience facilitating online, we’ve come to learn that it’s even more important to set the proper expectations in advance of an online event. It’s critical to clearly communicate what the event will be like and how people are expected to show up and participate.
Just as important, is clearly stating what the event “is not”, as people have come to anticipate they can checkout, do emails or perhaps other household chores, while passively listening to an online event. Work with your stakeholders on a pre-event communication plan that explicitly states expectations (i.e., we’ll expect your video to be enabled). Allow for a “check-in” period in advance of the event that offers tech support for those who may require assistance. Use the opening few minutes of an event or the pre-event check-in period to set expectations again and inform participants of what to expect. This helps eliminate any surprises and sets you and the participants up for success!
See it in Action
These three ingredients have been powerful in our recipe for success in creating amazing online experiences for our clients. Put them to use and consider attending one of our experiential introductions to see them in action or if you want a deeper learning experience, sign up for our next Online XCHANGE Experience in June!