Virtual meetings and events have opened the door to a tidal wave of attendance. Participants can log on without the time and expense of travel, and working parents don’t have to choose between making a meeting and staying home with their children. In fact, for some virtual events, broadening attendance even further to include those children can create a sense of community and get attendees invested in the event. We’ve all grown accustomed to having our kids make a cameo appearance in a Zoom call, so why not create a virtual meeting and event that brings the family along for the fun?
Here are four tips for creating a family-friendly meeting or event:
1. Entertain and engage: Rather than motivational speakers, look for interactive entertainers who use participants from the virtual audience. That’s a sure bet for increasing engagement.
We hired a well-known mentalist for a virtual event with 900 attendees. The client pre-selected six families to be part of the 45-minute show, and the families joined the mentalist virtually, appearing “on air” one at a time to help with the trick. With questions like “What’s your favorite color?” or requests like “Choose a number,” the mentalist ensured the show was designed so that even the youngest audience members would have fun participating.
2. Timing matters: Pay attention to bedtimes before scheduling your family-friendly affair. Kids will want to take part in the fun, and parents won’t appreciate an event that lasts long into the night and disrupts everyone’s rest. This can be especially tricky when working with audiences across multiple time zones.
For our event, all attendees were in the same time zone, which made it easy. We planned it for 7:00 p.m., giving families time to enjoy dinner together before the show but early enough so it didn’t interfere with bedtimes.
3. Promote family time: Make sure your event promotion makes it clear that the whole clan is welcome. Use language like “fun for the entire family” or “gather your friends and family” to encourage everyone to get involved.
After our family-friendly virtual event, we heard multiple comments from attendees who were appreciative that their kids were included. Plus, the families chosen to participate in the mentalist show felt like superstars. To extend the excitement, those families received a recording of the event so they could see themselves on screen.
Don’t forget the snacks: No virtual event is complete without a fun gift pack! Look for gift boxes that include kid-approved snacks and drinks. You can also throw in some kid-friendly goodies to commemorate the occasion, like fun socks, face masks, or branded bracelets.
Our attendees received goodies in an attractive box delivered directly to their homes. In addition to supporting meeting materials for the employees, the box included movie-theater snacks and individual bags of flavored popcorn for kids to enjoy during the show.
By now, we’ve all grown accustomed to virtual meetings and events. Now, it’s time—and it’s easy—to include families in the fun.
Tara Rezen, CMP, is an executive producer at Bishop-McCann.