When the COVID-19 pandemic struck earlier this year, many companies opted to delay not just events, but also strategic business initiatives and efforts to bolster internal progress.
Yet now that we’re months into the pandemic, how much longer can companies keep their future initiatives on hold? Progress is especially important in areas like company culture and community building. Engaged, active employees strengthen a business from the inside, creating a solid foundation that can weather times of crisis and support lasting success.
Even though we can’t yet safely gather in person, you can pivot your strategic planning and discovery efforts just as you do with events and meetings. The key is to take this work virtual!
As you consider your own virtual strategic planning, here are a few of our top tips to make this process as effective and enjoyable as possible.
4 Tips on Hosting Effective Virtual Discovery Sessions
1. Gather your team on video.
You and your team might be feeling a little virtual fatigue, but face-to-face interactions are especially important for strategic planning and discovery. You’ll be having and facilitating deep conversations, which are much easier when you can see and gauge the reactions of others.
Plus, let’s be honest — it’s easier to reduce the risk of multitasking when everyone’s visible! Accountability, right?
2. Invite an outside facilitator.
Remember that virtual fatigue we just mentioned? It’s a sneaky culprit that can cause people to lose energy more quickly in a virtual space.
And that means the pressure’s on to do more in less time. Rather than saddling yourself or your company’s leadership with that responsibility, call in an expert. You know your business and what you want to accomplish. By working with a facilitator, you’ll be able to do just that while also sending a clear signal to your employees that you value their feedback and well-being.
3. Take your favorite tools virtual.
Anyone else love the smooth, clean space of a whiteboard when you’re planning and brainstorming? Look for virtual alternatives to your preferred strategic planning tools.
We’re big fans of MURAL and MIRO, technology platforms that enable digital collaboration anywhere. Zoom includes a number of helpful built-in tools too, including chats, messages, file sharing and the ability to create collaboration-enabled conference rooms.
One tip? Once you’ve decided on the digital tools you’ll use during your virtual design session, send your employees some advanced communication so that they can make the necessary installations or have time to explore the chosen resources. That will also help you maximize the discussion time by giving participants a chance to feel more comfortable with this new format and all of the ways that they can be involved.
4. Maximize your virtual capabilities.
Just as you’d put in the work to make a strategic plan for your event or meeting, you should do the same thing for your discovery session.
For example, what outcomes do you want to achieve? What are your discussion topics? How do you want attendees to participate? What happens after the session?
When you answer those questions, you can pick the most effective virtual platform. And once you do, put all of its capabilities to work. Some of our favorite examples include hosting breakout groups, introducing polling and enabling live chat. You might find that not all participants need to be part of every conversation. Put your virtual conferencing platform to work in a way that keeps participants engaged and also helps ensure you collect the raw data and feedback that will guide your next steps.
Of course, you don’t want to bombard your attendees with messages and requests in all directions. That’s why it’s so critical to create a plan for your discovery session, then decide what virtual capabilities will be the best fit for each programmatic element. The more strategically you can put your virtual resources to work, the less likely you’ll risk missing out on important answers and insight.
If you’re feeling intimidated by shifting your strategic planning and community building to a virtual format, you’re not alone!
Our Wellington team is ready to facilitate your design and discovery sessions to help you strategize on the adjustments you need to make to accomplish your goals and objectives. We simply want to strategize with you and help you plan for the future. Then, when we’re on the other side of the pandemic, your business will be ideally positioned for further growth and success ahead of the industry curve. Reach out to us any time and we’ll start moving forward with you.