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December 14, 2020 5 mins

Toast the season, even when you can’t be together

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:05):
Good morning. This is Laura. Welcome to the New Corner Office,
the podcast where we share strategies for thriving in the
new world of work, where location and ours are more
flexible than in the past. Today's tip is about how
to throw a good virtual party. Virtual parties are very

different than in person parties, and indeed some of the
worst virtual parties are trying too much to be like
in person parties. But if you recognize the difference, you
can still have a good time and not experienced some
of the downsides of in person gatherings. The other night,
I went to a virtual book launched toast for a

friend of mine. The folks who planned the party did
it very well. We shet up wearing hats based on
my friend's book theme, with everyone given instructions beforehand. We've
been told to have something sparkly ready. The host planned
a coot game based on the guest of honor. The
guest list was manageable, and we were given a hard

stop about forty five minutes after the start. It was
really a great way to capitalize on all the lessons
we've learned in the New Corner Office over the last
nine months. Virtual parties cannot be left to chance. Now truly,
in person parties shouldn't be left to chance either, but
people often do. And sometimes it can work because there's

the option to eat and drink and then try to
find another small group of people to talk to. But
that doesn't work so well on Zoom. Here's what does
First have a purpose. We were celebrating my friend's book launch.
It's Christmas. It's not really a reason. You need to
have a more practical purpose, like thanking people for their

hard work, or celebrating good results, or toasting the new
year or something like that. It's second, limit the list.
It is almost impossible to accommodate more than a dozen
people in a virtual gathering. If yours needs to be bigger,
and I know there are many parties that do need
to be bigger, then make use of the breakout room
option to give people a chance to connect in small

groups of about half a dozen people. This is the
size group that allows for real conversation, just like you'd
see at a dinner table. Third, send out the props.
In virtual gatherings, you are your Zoom square. It can
make people feel part of something to have matching props,

be that shirts, or hats or something else. You can
make the occasion special by sending people festive glasses or
foods ahead of time. Fourth have a plan for the party.
What will all the guests be doing with all the
minutes they are there? Games or conversation starters are good.

You can do things like a performance from a musician
who is zooming in, or someone teaching you something like
caricature drawings. But aim for something a little different than
your average meeting. We all have enough virtual meetings. A
party shouldn't feel exactly like Tuesday's status update. And finally,

keep it short. If people want to call each other
individually afterwards, they totally can, but the party itself really
shouldn't be more than an hour. I'd aim for shorter.
People's attention will drift after thirty to forty five minutes anyway. Now,
to be sure, some aspects of a virtual party will
feel like a poor substitute for an in person one.

I do like seeing people in person. I'm also highly
unlikely to make my own bacon wrapped scallops or other
such party food. Sometimes it's fun to get dressed up,
and I am not likely to pull out my fancy
shoes just to sit down at my computer. That said,
there are also some upsides. Parties can get boring after

forty five minutes too, but there can be pressure to
stay Trying to move to different conversation groups can get awkward,
and there's always somebody who drinks too much. If people
do that with virtual parties, well, at least they are
already at their own homes, and those sparkly shoes might pinch.
With a virtual party, there's no need to keep standing

around in them. I have high hopes that come next
December people will be gathering in person again. But having
virtual options means that we can gather to toast things
with far flowing friends. The group of us probably wouldn't
have all flown in for a book launch party, so
virtual gatherings open up possibilities for connection. It's just different

and worth having as a tool as the world of
work changes. In the meantime. This is Laura, Thanks for listening,
and here's the succeeding in the New Corner Office. The
New Corner Office is a production of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts,

visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get
your favorite shows.
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