We talked to Charlotte Reid, co-founder of Reid Rodell Event Planning, and a dear friend of Careerstone Group to get her expert advice on planning a five-star virtual event. Read the interview for her professional tips below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background – what do you do?
I am a transplant from Los Angeles but the Washington, D.C. metro area is my home away from home. As a founding partner in Reid Rodell Event Planning, I have worked around the D.C. region, across the U.S., and all around the world designing and executing corporate and private events for discerning clients of all types.
What is the best virtual event you’ve attended? What made it so spectacular?
I recently attended a remarkable virtual event, memorable because of the many layers of entertainment: live music, a DJ, comedians, and dance performances. It also featured cameo appearances from well-known celebrities, which was a delightful surprise.
What is your process for planning virtual events?
The very first step in all planning is to LISTEN. It’s critical to listen to the client to get clarity on their goals and mission. I want to know what they want their guests to take away from the experience. The next step is to use our expertise to fill out the spaces and enhance and expand the vision by adding elements that activate all 5 senses for the guest.
Are there any virtual party best practices you can share with us?
In planning these kinds of events, we must expect the unexpected and be ready for technical challenges. It is critical – and we have dedicated team for this – to manage the digital and electronic aspects of the plan. For virtual events you must have a plan B and plan C ready to go. This is why we rehearse our virtual events, prerecord content wherever possible, and most importantly manage client expectations. Virtual events require a team of capable and experienced teammates working in concert. It is definitely not a one-woman show.
Do you have any advice for people who are planning to move their company-wide holiday parties online?
This has been a very strange and unexpected year for us all. We have collectively dealt with upheaval and loss. Still, the show MUST go on. Life is good, rich, beautiful, textured, and sometimes requires sacrifice, so we must always find reasons to celebrate. This year in particular, companies must make special consideration to do so safely. Base your celebration on your employees’ needs, make sure what you do reflects their core values, uplifts and celebrates them, is appropriate to your specific field, and appropriately reflective of the sacrifices the company has had to make. Make sure that it does not feel like a just another meeting to them. Make sure that they feel valued and appreciated.
Any final pieces of wisdom about virtual events you’d like to leave with our readers?
The core goal of any event—including virtual ones—is to establish a personal emotional connection with the guest. Because virtual events are two dimensional, creating that connection can be a challenge. Event hosts must utilize more tools and apps to help to create that personal and emotional connection on a digital platform. Because COVID-19 made social and safety restrictions necessary, we need to use innovative tools and stretch our imagination to express kindness, passion, creativity, and palpable joy. Bring out elements of surprise for the guest. Use the art of elegant gift-giving. Especially now, more is more. Send guests beautifully presented gifts that are personalized, relevant, timely, useful, and thoughtful. Time the arrival to coincide with the event. MAKE THE CONNECTION.