Make the Most out of Your Digital Meetings!

Getting together in the digital world offers many opportunities: meetings that are not tied to a specific location can overcome boundaries, you can involve many people at once and the whole thing can be really fun!

However, just as in the analogue world, an event's success and its content as well as its fun factor are not a given. There are a few special tricks in the digital world that require attention / cannot be done quite so intuitively:

Which aspects of the digital world require special attention?

  • Social interaction per se does not work by itself. We have all been there before: you enter a digital meeting and either everyone else is just as silent as you are when entering the virtual room, or people are already talking excitedly and you don't really know how to get started. After all, you are the sole entertainer for a moment with your speech and this might put you under a lot of pressure. In the digital world, even loose chatter requires moderation.

  • The digital attention span is shorter. Even face-to-face a full day event is exhausting but hardly possible to implement in the digital world. Digital meetings are exhausting, the brain is constantly in search of signals that do not come digitally and without automatic moments of movement such as changes of room and scene, a day easily seems three times as long. The programme in the digital world must therefore be streamlined (e.g., by omitting initially planned programme items) or be extended (e.g., to several days). The digital programme must be provided with sufficient breaks and small ice-breakers to remind us again and again that we are human beings and not robots staring at laptops.

  • The atmosphere in the room cannot be picked up/sensed automatically. In the analogue world, the atmosphere in the room can be picked up quite easily. Is it quiet, is it loud, are people holding their heads at an angle or nodding slightly? Physical signals let us know what the energy level in the room is at any given moment. This subtle interpretation is much more difficult or even impossible in the digital world without sensory perception. In order to find out what the current state of the mood is or to create a good atmosphere, moments are required in which people can actively express themselves. Ice-breakers will lighten the atmosphere and agreed hand signals can be used to indicate a request for the floor or the need for spontaneous breaks.

  • A well-moderated introduction is half the battle: The academic quarter of an hour which in the analogue makes events start with a generally accepted delay has not yet established itself in the digital setting. Digital meetings usually start on time, chatting opportunities should be identified in the programme (e.g., as "digital breakfast" or "digital coffee break") and should be moderated. An agreement should be made at the beginning of the official programme on how to communicate with each other throughout the session (via chat, via direct requests to speak...?). Furthermore, an announcement should be made on how much self-responsibility will be given to the participants in the event: Besides dealing with short "bio-breaks" (is it okay to leave the meeting for another tea at any time?), this also means: Are the participants listeners or co-creators of the meeting? If you want to start the conference in an activating way, we recommend starting with a participatory programme item (e.g., Impromptu Networking).

In the following texts, we will show you some specific formats that you can use to make a digital conference entertaining, energetic and as participatory as possible. The formats are sorted according to the desired goal of the respective programme item: from knowledge transfer (sharing knowledge) to the joint development of results (collaboration) to networking (networking), they provide you with inspiration and guidance for a successful digital event!

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