Conquering virtual fatigue through virtual roundtable best practices
Virtual fatigue has become increasingly ubiquitous ever since the world of B2B human interaction shifted overnight, from shaking hands in conferences to exchanging Zoom meeting links in emails. The overwhelming exhaustion of excessive online activities now poses a major threat to the hosting and organisation of virtual B2B roundtable events.
How to combat virtual fatigue
If you are organising a virtual roundtable event, you may find yourself considering the most extraordinary and often ludicrous steps to avoid virtual event fatigue. In reality, there is no need to become a virtual circus to keep your attendees interested. In this article, you are given ringside seats to how the event organisers at The Ortus Club combat virtual fatigue with best practices that have kept their executive roundtables engaging and exciting.
Use a targeted topic for your roundtable discussions
Switching to a virtual set-up means distractions are just a click away, and your attendees may be less focused than usual. In a study conducted by Vanderbilt School of Medicine, experts have found people’s attention spans to be significantly shorter in a virtual setting than in in-person events. This does not come as a surprise. In addition to potential distractions, health and politics make attendees susceptible to moments of ‘zoning-out’.
When organising a roundtable discussion, it is common practice to keep conversation topics broad in order to appeal to a wider audience. Roundtable discussion topics, however, should be as targeted as possible. Try to focus on a more specific issue in your industry that your guests are most interested in. When the agenda is concise, potential attendees will find more value in the discussion and in the insights shared by their peers.
Engage with guests before and after the event
One significant aspect of in-person events that is lost in many of today’s online meetings is human engagement. Often, virtual roundtables focus so much on information that they become detached from the attendee. By gathering insights from guests before the event, you encourage knowledge relevant to the discussion ahead. It is important that guests know they were invited for a good reason, and you are interested in what they have to share. This kind of pre-event engagement helps guests feel they are part of the event, not just observers.
Choose the right moderator
Much like how an orchestra relies on the conductor’s instructions, a virtual roundtable depends on a capable moderator. They will guide the flow of the entire roundtable session, from asking questions to keeping the attendees hooked and alert. An engaging and experienced moderator will bring out the best in every participant to make the discussion as vibrant as possible.
Sara Christine Chojnacki, a CX expert, says the key to good moderation is keeping participants engaged by creating a small, safe space for them to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions. ‘It’s really about creating a container that allows people to feel vulnerable, and that’s what helps when addressing the challenges’, says Sara.
“Much like how an orchestra relies on the conductor’s instructions, a virtual roundtable depends on a capable moderator.’”
Include real-time experiences
Virtual roundtables that add sensory activities involving food, gifts, and drinks can create opportunities for better connection. At The Ortus Club, we continue our practice of creating a relaxed atmosphere for knowledge-sharing roundtables by adding wine-tasting and whisky-tasting to our virtual activities.
The Ortus Club organises events worldwide and works with trusted partners to provide unique and interesting experiences for roundtable guests.
A study by Stanford Human Interaction Lab suggests the lack of physical contact and nonverbal communication contributes to the overall virtual fatigue that an attendee experiences. However, having these hands-on experiences also helps bring back the human aspect of getting together during in-person events. These activities not only help attract guests but also set the tone and energy of the roundtable.
Ortus live mind map illustrations are a favourite among attendees. An illustrator sits in during a virtual roundtable and transforms the discussion by pulling key points and displaying them in a mind map. This experience gives our attendees a visual aid to pair with a better understanding of the topic.
If your organisation has hosted any of these activities in the past, consider resuming the practice in a virtual set-up to keep your guests invested in your roundtable.
Making the most out of digital
On one hand, digital acceleration has made a positive impact in the events industry. Virtual roundtables have become powerful tools for attendees across different industries, nationalities, and backgrounds. Digitalisation has enabled knowledge-sharing beyond borders, a limitation of in-person events.
On the other hand, the effort needed to process all the stimuli in adjusting to a digital set-up still makes virtual fatigue a pressing issue that many organisations face today.
At the Ortus Club, we specialise in making intimate, interactive, informative, and engaging virtual roundtable events. We continue our vision of holding executive virtual roundtable discussions all over the globe to accommodate the growing importance of knowledge-sharing in times of uncertainty.
If you are interested in hosting an executive virtual roundtable or masterclass but need someone to do the heavy lifting for you, please leave your details on our ‘Host an Event page’, and one of our Client Directors will reach out to you to get the work started.