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    A very spe­cial vir­tual event

Cele­bra­tion goes digi­tal! —
A very spe­cial vir­tual event


It has been over one year that I have foun­ded my own com­pany — a major mile­stone of my busi­ness life which I plan­ned to cele­brate with some cus­to­mers, net­work col­leagues and friends from the Stutt­gart area where I am mainly working from. But then, as so many other f‑2-f- events, my first anni­ver­s­ary party got hit by COVID-19 and of course, no local party.

After being sad for two seconds an idea came to my mind: vir­tual mee­tings are get­ting more and more com­mon because of the cur­rent situa­tion: video calls with other col­leagues working from home, online semi­nars and con­fe­ren­ces, video chats with friends and even “see­ing” my god­child­ren via video calls. But what about an online busi­ness party? Never expe­ri­en­ced that before… Being a con­sul­tant for digi­tal trans­for­ma­tion I did defi­ni­tely not feel like can­ce­ling my party, rather loo­king for digi­tal alter­na­ti­ves in a fle­xi­ble and crea­tive way. Isn’t this a key cha­rac­te­ris­tic of being self-employed?

Thanks to great people in my net­work, various ideas how to design such an event came up and wit­hin only a few days, the plan­ning was done. In con­trast to a mee­ting for din­ner & drinks in a restau­rant, such an online event requi­res for sure more pre­pa­ra­tion: defi­ning a course of actions with an appe­aling dra­ma­turgy, choo­sing the right sui­ted tool, sen­ding a little package to every guest with some party equip­ment, wri­ting a screen­play and script for tech­ni­cal details, crea­ting sli­des, assis­ting guests with tech­ni­cal access etc.

As my guests were both skep­ti­cal and curious what to expect in an online cele­bra­tion, our tar­get was to “deli­ver the unex­pec­ted”: The event was plan­ned for 75 minu­tes on a Fri­day evening and inclu­ded brea­k­out ses­si­ons, a quiz for inter­ac­tion and net­wor­king groups:

  • With the lat­ter one, me as the host tried to form small net­work groups of three guests bran­ded with a spe­cial name or topic which every group mem­ber could relate to. By that method, people who did not know each other got in con­tact — people who would perhaps not have tal­ked to each other in a restau­rant as you usually stick to the people you know.
  • We offe­red three dif­fe­rent brea­k­out ses­si­ons in par­al­lel so that each guest could choose from a diverse offer: a medi­ta­tion ses­sion, an infor­ma­tion ses­sion on an e‑scooter start-up I am invol­ved in or an inter­ac­tive ses­sion to sur­prise the host. All three ses­si­ons were a great success.
  • Nearly every video con­fe­ren­cing tool offers the poll func­tion which we used for a quiz to inter­act with the guests. We reviewed my first year of being self-employed with a bunch of ques­ti­ons, my assi­stant asking the ques­ti­ons, the guests ans­we­ring by poll, com­men­ting it and me exp­lai­ning the cor­rect ans­wer. By this, we had a very enter­tai­ning way of loo­king back.

The event was enter­tai­ning, sur­pri­sed our guests and crea­ted a rela­xed atmo­s­phere where people felt lin­ked to each other des­pite being remote and not knowing all other guests.

One of the main advan­ta­ges was to have col­leagues from fur­ther away invol­ved who would not have made it in per­son for a local party in Stutt­gart. Plus, a big dif­fe­rence is the gui­ded net­wor­king: as host, I was able to con­nect the guests with each other in a more direct way than in a restaurant.

My key take-away: Such an event requi­res for sure more plan­ning than “just” ren­ting a restau­rant, and it was all worth it. We offe­red a great event that people really enjoyed. It was much fun and thri­ves — as mostly — on the people invol­ved! Thanks to all of you for being part of my network!

PS: Keen on more details? Feel free to get in touch with me here.

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