Book recommendation: Events and the new normal

We all have been adjusting to the ‘new normal’: wearing masks, following the hygiene regulations and lastly, keeping a distance from each other. Since we are told to keep a distance most of us have been advised to postpone or avoid big gatherings and events.

However, the pandemic has not stopped one of the FastForwardForum-Ambassadors, Robin Farmanfarmaian, to continue organising, executing as well as participating in events, virtually. She has gathered all her learnings and experiences in her newest book “Facilitating Virtual Events (Driving Participant, Engagement & Interaction)” which gives us a timely insight in the Do’s and Don’ts of conducting a virtual event. 

4 Tips for your virtual event

Here are some of our take-aways from her latest book:

  1. Content is King and participant interaction is queen

Obviously, when events are held virtually, the engagement suffers and time slots for networking evaporate. That’s why Farmanfarmaian has come up with the 60/40 Content-Interaction Rule where 40% of the time has to be invested into the interactive component. These could be Q&A-sessions or breakout groups for further discussions. Even games are highly recommended. 

  1. The importance of Facilitators

In a virtual setting, the participants in a panel or however the set-up is, does require good guidance. That’s why Farmanfarmaian introduces the role of the facilitator who should have a set of skills that aims to bring structure, interactive engagement and inclusion among the participating group. 

  1. Finding the right speakers

These days, it is not hard to find speakers. However, the challenge lies in finding the right ones because as Farmanfarmaian says, participants forgive technical difficulties but they don’t forgive ineffective speakers. There are Speaker Bureaus or Professional Associations, who do this professionally but if you want to have full control, you can ask for recommendations or referrals from your networks and even fall back to LinkedIn or other Social Media channels. 

  1. Practicalities you cannot do away with

Communication before the virtual event is key. Farmanfarmaian’s “Pre-Engagement Tools Checklist” notes all stages of staying in touch with the speakers as well as the participants, by setting up websites, promoting the speakers on social media or even creating a private group chat with everyone involved. What’s also interesting is that she introduces post-conference activities that aim at keeping the audience and target groups interested even when the event is already over through follow-up, post-event emails, sharing presentations and even video sequences of the virtual event, if there are any. 

If you want to organise and facilitate a virtual event, Robin Farmanfarmaian’s How-To-manual will surely be of help to give direction and a guide. Her bits and tips will definitely lead you to a successful conference. 

You can buy the book here: