Taking staff events into the virtual stratosphere

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

STAFF EVENTS: It might sound straightforward, but holding a corporate Dinner and Dance event virtually means more than just live streaming an event on Zoom for two hours.

‘It’s typically no longer just a one-day event. Now, there’s a pre-event, an actual event, and a post-event,” says Adam Piperdy, Founder and Chief Experience Officer at Unearthed Productions.

The idea is to create an event experience that is interactive and engaging, and one that feels more like a high quality production akin to a television variety programme, he adds.

To achieve that, Piperdy says his events planning and production firm will speak with clients first to find out what their leadership direction is for that year, then develop a theme around those goals. From there, Unearthed Productions will then move on to developing visual aspects that best encapsulate and highlight the theme.

“This part of the process is important because all events are now online and any online event is now a visual event,” says Piperdy. “Right now, people are just sitting in front of the screen and all they are doing is watching the event.”

The visual element has become so front and centre that Unearthed Productions now has a dedicated team of six graphic designers, with skills in creating two dimensional, three-dimensional, and motion graphic experiences.

These virtual dinner and dance parties, or “specially curated experiences” as Piperdy calls them, are held over secured virtual servers that can reach up to 10,000 audience members at once, and can be hosted by eight live speakers at any given time.

One of Unearthed’s clients an aviation company based in Singapore had a forward-looking vision for its dinner and dance last year. In line with that, a futuristic theme with a virtual environment set in a spaceship was created.

One of the highlights of that event was the sight of the company’s CEO being transported across various dimensions and countries in a spaceship, accompanied with changing virtual backgrounds as the locations shifted.

To further up the engagement factor for participants beyond the usual fare of polls, Q&As and chats, live interactive games were also employed during this celebration.

These games, including scavenger hunts and word puzzles, as well as ‘Spin and Win’-style lucky draws and trivia games, allowed audience members to go from mere passive viewers to active participants.

Using Unearthed’s proprietary platform called OnlineXP, participants were also grouped up into teams via pre-set functions during the games, so they could then compete against other teams to score points for prizes.

OnlineXP, which can host up to 5,000 participants, can also broadcast lucky draw winners on the main window. This allows the event emcee to banter with the winners and present them with their prizes as if they are on a physical stage, making the entire experience even more ‘two-way’.

Besides games, there was also a virtual photo booth (hosted on a third party platform, UberSnap) at this event, which allowed participants to take candid pictures with one another throughout the entire programme.

Another event saw the audience decide which of two possible scenarios the event theme would be based on. From there, the evening then flowed according to one of the two possible scenarios they had picked, similar to a “‘choose your own adventure” concept.

Pictures: Courtesy of Unearthed Productions

This case study is extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's report on Staff Events and Engagement. For further coverage, and access to the full report, please see any of the below links:

The distanced social: How employers are approaching staff events in 2021 (full report)

The distanced social: How employers are approaching staff events in 2021 full report)

Staff events forced to get creative: Chief of Staff report (news highlight) November 2, 2021

Staff events suffer from the ultimate disruption (feature) November 4, 2021

Taking staff events into the virtual stratosphere (feature) November 8, 2021 Prudential's PLAYful take on virtual staff engagement (case study) November 10, 2021

Will virtual events survive (or thrive) in the new normal? (feature) November 11, 2021

Five tips to elevate your virtual staff event (Tips for HR) November 12, 2021