Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner and president of the International Association of Speaker Bureaus, discusses how to use special dates to bind teams and communities together in 2021.
The calendar is full of important dates to celebrate achievements, such as International Women’s Day (8 March), or to highlight key issues within society, such as World Mental Health Day (10 October).
Pre-Covid-19, these significant dates were more easily acknowledged and celebrated when we were physically in the workplace, however this does not mean they should go unnoticed this year despite remote working and social distancing. It is easier and perhaps more important than ever for businesses to stage a virtual event, bring in a speaker and deliver thought provoking content.
Event organisers and meeting planners can use the calendar to bring their teams/communities together.
Each day we interact within this virtual world we improve on how to best communicate and engage with our customers, colleagues, and teams. We become used to those enforced longer pauses between one person speaking and the next person responding as we wait to double check the speaker has finished, and then virtually look round the room to check if anyone is going to jump in and speak before we unmute ourselves and share our thoughts.
We all try to be disciplined and raise our virtual hands, but some can find this structured and methodological conversation both forced and unnerving. As such, those casual meetings (like the ones we used to have by the water cooler) between groups or teams, seem to be being lost as meetings become more focussed and results driven. That might not be a bad thing in terms of productivity and creativity but maybe we are losing the fun from meeting virtually (who knew we would ever describe a meeting as fun!).
However, it has been almost a year since lockdown began and individuals, teams and businesses crave interaction and bonding. We need an excuse and focus to share experiences and commonality with our team outside of the business or project focus. Meetings planners and event organisers need to look to new areas to find common threads that can bind people who aren’t physically together and may have lost the spontaneity of the small interactions of life.
One answer is already with us. The calendar brings days to celebrate, to reflect, to remember and to strive for. We see these events bring causes, movements and feats that impact everyone individually and together. They can be used to bring people together with a common thread.
These dates provide an excuse to have a meeting where everyone can enjoy the moment outside of work focus. Where discussions that happened freely in an office environment can now occur with the structure that the virtual world demands. It gives us as individuals, as we learn how to communicate in this new environment, a place that feels familiar and safe to learn from each other about people’s views and thoughts. This can be amplified if there is someone steering and facilitating the conversation, someone who can educate and inspire and hold the flow of the meeting together.
Suddenly, with the focus of the team being around the subject matter of the calendar date, with a voice controlling the flow that has respect from the group, a conversation and connection can happen. This is a place where individuals come out of a meeting feeling excited, challenged, inspired and energised rather than exhausted and fatigued from that virtual experience which seems to come all too often.
By using the calendar to create meetings, planners and event organisers can pick out notable dates to deliver virtual forums that help teams and individuals form communities and create environments where the joy of being with each other in a virtual world becomes something to embrace.