Pivoting to virtual meetups: how we pulled it off (and how you can too)
If you’ve ever considered hosting virtual group events in your business, it’s safe to say that now is the time to start. People are hungry for connection, learning, and growth.
And let’s face it: there’s never been a more forgiving climate to experiment with new ways of interacting with your audience.
At the start of 2020, after the success of our first Kajabi meetup in Irvine, CA, our brand experience team planned to take Kajabi meetups nationwide to five major cities across the United States. Venues were set. Flights and hotel rooms were booked. And luckily, our Denver meetup went off without a hitch.
Then the global pandemic hit.
And, like every other business under the sun, we had to adapt and cancel our carefully planned events. We came up with an alternative plan: host 10 virtual meetups in one week, each lasting 1 hour, rooted in community building, strategizing, and sharing successes in the online business world.
Within two hours of opening up registration, we hit capacity.
Now that we’ve been hosting these meetups every month since, we’ve picked up some valuable lessons that can help you plan your own virtual group events.
Watch the interview, where Kajabi Brand Experience Coordinator Regan Taylor shares her learnings and favorite moments from recent meetups:
- the origins of Kajabi virtual meetups (0:22)
- two different formats we tried (2:27)
- planning and letting things happen organically (4:15)
- advice from Kajabi Hero Sara Moseley (5:24)
- advice from Kajabi Hero Kayse Morris (6:42)
- why breakout rooms worked well for building community (8:08)
- how to get shy people to participate (10:46)
- advice from Kajabi Hero Dave Gambrill (13:09)
6 tips to hosting value-packed, relationship-building virtual meetups
1. Identify the specific purpose and topic of the event
In a one-hour timeframe, discussions can get scattered if you don’t define a specific purpose in the planning stages. Think about what you want your participants to walk away with after the event. Do you want your attendees to learn something, get questions answered, meet potential collaborators, share ideas, practice a skill in front of a captive audience?
Once you understand the purpose of your virtual meetup, you’ll have greater clarity in designing the format and the schedule for the event.
2. Expert panel discussions vs. breakout rooms
If your goal is to educate your participants, having experts speak on a panel works well. Ideally, reserve time for Q&A to provide a more interactive experience.
If your goal is to cultivate a sense of community and encourage networking, smaller breakout rooms with 4-6 people are incredibly valuable. Naturally, people tend to feel more comfortable in smaller group settings, and more inclined to share. And because each person gets more time to talk, breakout room discussions tend to go deeper.
3. Take advantage of Zoom’s automatic room assignments
You don’t have to agonize over how to split up your participants. Zoom has a feature that automatically assigns people randomly. To ensure all the groups stay on topic, prepare a document with discussion questions and make sure to distribute the document beforehand.
4. Send multiple reminders with the event link each time
Imagine how disappointing it would be if you attracted a high number of sign-ups and a bunch of people had trouble finding the link at the last minute. Making the link easily accessible may sound obvious, but it’s easy to underestimate how many times people need reminders with the same information.
Be redundant about your email reminders and make sure to include a functional “add to calendar” button each time. Send a reminder an hour or less before the event.
5. Get feedback regularly
As IT Cosmetics Founder Jamie Kern Lima recently said, “Feedback is a gift — even if it's hard to hear, it's always a gift.”
Follow up every virtual meetup with a survey and let your attendees know how important that feedback is to planning future live group events. From there, you can keep iterating your virtual meetups, experimenting with new formats, and keep making them better than the last.
6. “Ready, fire, aim”
If you think a virtual meetup could benefit your business, the best thing to do is to dive in. There comes a point when you have to stop researching and start experimenting. As our expert panelist and Kajabi Hero Dave Gambrill said, “It’s never going to be just right.” Get started, knowing full well things will get messy.
“That is the only way you’re gonna be successful,” Dave said. “You just have to go. Instead of ready, aim, fire, you have to do ready, fire, aim.”