Though virtual meetings have been an essential lifeline for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, technology isn’t without its challenges and limitations. According to Psychology Today, at least two-thirds of communication can be nonverbal. In fact, a study by research psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabian shows that when communicating emotional responses, over 90% of incoming information is not derived from the words a person says, but from how they say them, and what the person is doing or how they are acting while they say them. As beneficial as virtual meetings have been to keep businesses moving forward through the pandemic, they still lack that “human” factor we instinctively crave and seek. This is backed up by a Forbes survey that shows “84 percent of executives say they prefer in-person meetings for their ability to build stronger and more meaningful business relationships.” Not only do face-to-face meetings allow for us to interpret nonverbal cues from others, but engaging in casual chat about sports, food or a good movie before or after an in-person meeting can foster a good business relationship and create a common bond between people. Across the country and around the world, live events are gathering steam while still adhering to pandemic protocols to keep all participants protected. To help keep your business going strong, here are some tips on how you can safely resume having in-person meetings and events:
Make temperature screenings and on-site Covid-19 tests part of the registration process. Also, you can require all attendees to sign a code of conduct confirming they will adhere to CDC guidelines, self-monitor for any Covid-19 symptoms, and report if they are feeling unwell. If you are expecting a huge crowd, have the attendees undergo a PCR or rapid Covid-19 test within 72 hours before traveling. Be sure attendees are informed and aware of protocols in advance so they can determine what they are comfortable with and what to be prepared for before they register.
Whenever possible, open windows and doors to allow natural airflow to circulate throughout the room. If that isn’t an option, speak with the building manager about the most effective use of the air-conditioning and ventilation systems. Consider hosting breakout sessions and group activities outdoors to allow for maximum airflow and minimize the risk of transmission. Remember to limit the number of attendees based on how much space you will have available in order to remain compliant with social distancing guidelines.
Who doesn’t like gifts? Providing attendees with goodie-bags filled with hand-sanitizers, masks, and other cleaning essentials will remind and encourage attendees to use them throughout the meetings and events. Also, swag bags provide fantastic sponsorship opportunities for your event.
Food and Beverage
To ensure food safety, meals should be served in individually boxed containers when possible. Make use of tamper-proof personalized stickers and labels to reassure attendees that items have been sealed and remain undisturbed. If that is not an option, ensure you have server-attended stations with plexiglass barriers. Have single-serve bottled or canned beverages available for guests as well. If your venue has enough outdoor space available, utilize it for open seating for dining. Providing healthy meals and immune-boosting juices to guests throughout the day will also show you care for their well-being.
As more face-to-face meetings and events resume, health protocols should be a priority in every stage of planning. Different types of venues have different sets of rules and there are a lot of things to think about when planning live events during COVID-19. Some attendees may still be nervous gathering in groups, so be sure to remain consistent and clear regarding your planned and contingent safety measures.