As a virtual event manager, you need to be at the ready and focused from the get-go to the curtain call – and by get-go, we of course mean long before the event starts, and by curtain call we mean after you’ve wrapped up with your team. Making sure your virtual event desk is prepared and stocked with the necessities to get you from event start to finish can be tricky, especially during busy schedules.
With a little help from our friend, Jen Bray, Event Tech and Engagement Lead at IGD, we’re going to whip your virtual event desk into shape with our quick guide to the essential set-up:
Give Me Some Space
Desk space that is. It may sound obvious, but it’s worth a reminder: starting your virtual event with a tidy and ordered desk has important psychological and practical advantages.
If your desk is cluttered with kids’ homework, old coffee mugs and even the family cat, it’s going to be pretty hard to locate key items exactly when you need them. You might know your event run-sheet is in the general vicinity but if it’s wedged under a stack of bills you’ll waste precious minutes trying to find it when needed.
A messy desk can also be an immediate stress trigger. Even if you think you’re chill with an untidy workspace according to the Harvard Business Review, your brain is probably clocking the chaos and having an unnoticed meltdown.
In short: clearing and organising your desk space ahead of your virtual event reduces stress and maximises efficiency.
All Sit Down
With many of us now splitting our working time between the home and the office, the seating options at home can be somewhat interesting. How many of us have worked at home while sat on a bar stool, dining chair, sofa or even our bed? Needless to say, none of these are probably making our backs very happy.
Whether you’re running a virtual event from home or office investing in an ergonomically designed chair will pay dividends.
Being comfortable in a quality chair with good back support allows you to avoid pain and stay focused. Plus, it’ll keep your back in good shape for the longer term.
In short: an ergonomically designed chair is great for personal health and professional productivity.
Hydrate to Stay Great!
We all know that we should drink plenty of water, but did you know that, “…even mild dehydration (a body water loss of between 1%- 2%) impairs cognitive performance.” ?
Conversely, a 2013 study showed, “…participants who drank water showed an overall boosted productivity level of around 14%”. Pass us the H2O!
A couple of bottles of fresh plain water will not only stop you from getting thirsty, they’ll boost your virtual event brain power too.
While nothing beats fresh water for healthy hydration, we also reckon drinks can be fun. We like Jen Bray’s approach – her virtual event desk has three types of drink. “One for hydration, one for enjoyment, one for energy.” We should note the ‘enjoyment’ drink is not alcohol – think flavoured sparkling water rather than Prosecco!
In short: stock your virtual event desk with plenty of water, and possibly a few bottles of something to enjoy and/or give you an energy boost.
Keeping a range of snacks at your virtual event desk will prevent the awkwardness of hearing your stomach rumbling mid-speaker briefing. It will also ensure you don’t kill productivity (and your mood) by succumbing to the dreaded ‘hangries’.
Of course, your food choice should ideally deliver a slow and steady release of energy throughout the day. Low GI foods, such as oatmeal, fruit and nuts are ideal snack choices for those who want to avoid the kind of energy slumps associated with sweets and white bread.
“A big bag of crisps,” is Jen Bray’s essential snack and while that might not meet the strict definition of low GI, it does meet the definition for I’ve-worked-hard-and-deserve-a-tasty-pick-me-up-treat.
In short: have a good range of healthy, low GI snacks pre-prepared plus the odd bag of Pickled Onion Monster Munch here and there.
Notebooks and Post-its and Diaries
Paper based notes and diaries might seem archaic in a digital world, but during a busy virtual event they can be an invaluable resource to help keep everything on track and on time.
Mobile phones are great for doing just about anything (including note taking), but they’re also notorious for diverting our attention away from what we should be doing and onto funny cat videos.
Jen Bray always keeps a stash of post-its on her virtual event desk. “I like post-its for reminders when I’m supposed be doing something, like launching a session.”
Post-it notes keep reminders in sight. You can update and discard in real-time, and organise different elements by colour, e.g., blue notes for speakers, yellow notes for attendee queries, green notes for tech issues.
Diaries too are an ideal visual reminder that can stay open on your desk for referral. Noting the virtual event run-list in a paper diary means you can make regular checks to ensure the agenda is running the schedule.
In short: digital is delightful but sometimes you need paper post-its and diaries to get the job done.
Although paper has its place, most of our communication and info gathering is still going to happen via our tech.
Jen Bray always makes sure her phone is fully charged before the start of a virtual event, but if your phone does unexpectedly run out of juice, avoid the stress of trying to find the right charger in the right place (officially the source of 99% of family arguments) by having phone and digital device chargers plugged in close to your desk.
In short: Fully charge your phone or device before the virtual event and have chargers close by during the event.
We don’t need to tell event planners that their role regularly pops up in the top 10 most stressful vocations.
Running a virtual event can deliver stress in spades. Unstable Internet connections, speakers missing their online cues, glitching visuals and tech-befuddled attendees can send pulses racing, not in a good way.
To help keep her anchored when things get hectic, Jen Bray makes sure her desk vibe stays calm by having a soothing, scented candle on the go. She also recommends, “…a roller ball of meditation oil, such as Tisserand De-Stress or Neals Yard Remedies to Roll.”
Other ideas to manage stress levels might be a family photo, a calming landscape picture, or mini weighted blanket.
In short: whatever you use to reduce tension, make sure it’s on your virtual event desk before the event starts.
Spending a bit of time organising your virtual event desk and keeping it stocked with essential items will work wonders for your productivity and personal health.