If it’s an open event, make it sign-up only and password protect the event. Keeping it secure helps people feel safer to connect.
Customise the waiting room screen text to something friendly and relevant (see image, below).
Ask staff to set up a nice background and ideally sit on a sofa in a comfy space. This makes it more relaxed.
Ask staff not to use blurs or hidden backgrounds. You want them to bring their real selves. This builds more connection.
Designate a staff member to be chatbox monitor and give them co-host permissions within Zoom.
Use multiple hosts for big events.
Start the event early
Start the event 5 minutes early. Drop messages into the waiting room chat until it’s time to start.
At the event
Mute everyone on arrival to give people a chance to get settled.
As people arrive encourage them to have their camera on. Don’t make it compulsory. Ask them to say something in the chatbox if they have it off. Some people will interact better this way.
The first part of any meeting can be chaotic. Run an icebreaker. The Framework offers several activities
As you segue from the icebreaker make it clear you are entering a different part of the event.
Breaks are important because being in an event on a computer screen can feel more intense than real life. If you don’t have a break, people will squeeze one in when they aren’t speaking. Aim for 10 minutes per 1.5 hrs.
Tell people what time the break will be and stick to it. That way people know what to expect. Knowing when the break is will help people balance how much energy they give to taking part and being in connection.
Play music during the break. Ask people to stretch their legs (outside if they can) and not to look at their work emails.
Be back 1 minute before the restart, with your camera on. This helps communicate that you are ready for people to return.
At the end
Run a reflection activity. You could use an online poll or the chatbox.
Asking for permission to share email addresses
After an event it’s good to be able to email everyone together. It shows you are not holding all the power, and it helps people build and hold their own relationships outside of your events. Ask permission from everyone and build the list as best you can.
After the event
Send a follow up email to everyone who attended. Add actions, future meetings, ways to get involved and ways to sign up for a 1-1. You can also add a summary of what was shared during the icebreaker or a link to any playlist.
Send a ‘you were missed’ email to those who didn’t attend.
A waiting room welcome message before a Grapevine event
Grapevine have tried several ideas:
They have mailed people things to use or eat during the meeting. This includes hot chocolate, homemade cookies, note pads, postcards and motivational stickers.
One of their groups renamed the icebreaker as a biscuit breaker. They preferred this as a term for helping people build connection. Biscuit breakers try to create unity and togetherness. They are often silly and fun.
At one event they asked everyone to perform a funny movement that shows power. With consent they screenshotted people doing it and shared the photo in the email afterwards.
They have learnt to create a balance between different types of methods. This comes by knowing their audience and understanding why they are using each method with them. For example the Framework's hot mugs activity wasn't for everyone.
At big events Grapevine: