How to host a virtual event

By Natalie Briggs / December 21, 2020

Anno Domini 2020 has been tough on all of us. What’s worse is, because of the pandemic, most of us will not be able to take comfort from family and friends at annual end-of-year events.  Whether it was a cozy family dinner, a gift exchange among friends, or a boozy office party, in-person Christmas events were one of the ways you definitively wrapped the year in your mind. You celebrated if it was a good one and you commiserated and hoped for better if it wasn’t. 

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Social distancing protocols have changed all that for the foreseeable future. With Nphet advising that everyone stay put for the season, those wanting to get together have had to show a little adaptability and creativity. Moving a Christmas event online still allows everyone to meet while observing health regulations. If you’ve never planned one before, you may be a little unsure on how to go about it.

We will give you a few tips to help you successfully host a virtual Christmas event.

Do we really need a virtual event?

The first thing you have to decide as host is if you should have an event at all. The fact is, while some of us may have escaped 2020 relatively unscathed, we all have friends, family and colleagues who may have lost a loved one, their job, their business or suffered some misfortune. Be sensitive. If your family, friends or office mates want to have an event, then by all means, be the person that adds that extra bit of holiday cheer for everyone by pulling it together. If the response to your queries is lukewarm – or worse – maybe you might be better off postponing your event until next year … or not having it at all.

Virtual karaoke … anyone?

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If you’ve gotten the green light for your event, your next task will be to figure out what you are going to do. If it’s for family, will it be a full sit down virtual dinner? Or a quick gathering to perform a religious ceremony? If it’s for people from work, will it be a Secret Santa exchange? Or a potentially cringe inducing karaoke and ugly Christmas sweater contest? Ultimately, your guests will enjoy your event better if you take the time to think about activities they actually like. It goes without saying that if your extended family can’t stand each other, planning a long meal where they are forced to be in each other’s company may not be wise. 

As the world inches toward the tenth month of the COVID 19 lockdown, a number of companies have begun to supply online services that support virtual events. You may not be able to meet to play games, but for a fee, there are those who will let you and your family log on to participate in fun activities as a group, all from the comfort of your home. If your work friends aren’t into karaoke or ugly sweaters, maybe they’ll like Virtual Christmas bingo and a gift exchange better. Again, there are several templates for these activities online. Know your audience. 

https://www.oprahmag.com/life/a32022684/virtual-game-night/

Send out your virtual invites

You’ve settled on an event. Now it’s time to send out the invitations. Just as you picked which festivities you were going to attend in real life based on how they looked, it’s likely your guests are similar. There are free and paid options online for creating visually exciting virtual invitations. Give your event an interesting theme or title and remember to include the link for the platform on which everyone will be meeting up.

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And speaking of links …

Carrying off a successful online Christmas event requires a certain level of tech savviness. You’ll have to choose which platform is best for the type of event you want to have. Several of them have limits on how many can be invited and for how long. If you do decide on karaoke, how are you going to get the best audio reproduction? If you are having live entertainment, how do you incorporate it into your event? As host, these are things you’ll have to figure out if you want everyone to have the best time possible.

If needed, you should consider getting outside help to solve these technical issues. In other cases, a little common sense may go a long way in solving problems such as instituting rules about muting mics while others are speaking.

Be a good virtual host

A host can make or break an event, in person or virtually. If you’ve taken on the role of being a host, understand that you’re pretty much responsible for your guests’ enjoyment and ensuring the event goes as planned. 

The first thing you’ll want to do is set an agenda. If your event is made up of several parts, this will help things run smoothly from one to the next, as well as keep the event within a time limit. 

As in real life, your job as host involves moderating discussions. Steer them away from problematic issues that may lead to arguments.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-54894806

Event virtual, enjoyment real

Remember, you didn’t have this event to be stressed out by it. You wanted to bring  friends, family or colleagues at a particularly difficult time in the world’s history. Arranging to share host duties with someone can give you the opportunity to relax with them and to catch up.

The world won’t always be this way. Eventually, we’re going to go back to open spaces and gatherings. In the interim, a well planned and executed virtual event can offer a meaningful substitute.

Whatever you decide, we at Babylon wish you all happy holidays and a very merry Christmas!

About the author

Natalie Briggs

Natalie Briggs comes to Ireland via Babylon, from the Caribbean. She's a journalist with a 20 year background in print and broadcast media.

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