As my colleague Camille Antonetti wrote in her recent blog, COVID-required social distancing and stay at home measures have necessitated organizations to shift their in-person events and meetings to virtual platforms. In our work at Farland Group, we have conducted customer advisory board virtual sessions for years. Here are some key areas we focus on to create a valuable experience for all participants.
Agenda realignment. Going from a content-packed 8-hour agenda spread over two days to a 1-2-hour virtual session requires taking a good look at the areas of highest priority – for your organization and your clients. Which topics are the must haves? What are the areas that you need advice in order to keep your strategies and plans moving forward? If you start by looking at your agenda through that lens, you will arrive on a topic that you can really dig into during a shortened session.
Session facilitation. Webinars and teleconferences require a different type of facilitation. Not being able to see the audience and taking in their physical cues such as facial expression or body language, makes it a bit tougher to gauge how they are reacting to the content being presented. Seasoned facilitators know that this type of situation requires planned pauses to check in with the audience. Does the information resonate? What are they experiencing in their organizations? Selecting a few individuals in advance of the session to call by name to provide perspective also helps to keep the engagement high and the discussion flowing.
Over the last 6 weeks the world has changed dramatically, and it will likely be a while before we are all back meeting physically face to face at customer advisory board meetings and events. Virtual sessions are a great way to keep important areas of your strategy moving forward and stay connected to your customers.