Helpful Resources for Online Events

A person sits in front of a computer and is having a conversation with someone on screen.

Sara Veltkamp, Minerva East 


How do we make our Zoom calls more engaging? What facilitation techniques work best in a virtual discussionAre there ways we can make this online workshop better than the inperson version? 


Like many of you, we’ve been asking questions like these—for our team and on behalf of our clients—since the pandemic beganWhile definitive answers are in short supply and we don’t yet have meaningful data insightswe’ve come across some helpful resources. To save you time sorting through online information to find valuable insights, this blog shares a few articles and guides we’ve found particularly useful.  


Learning vicariously 


Where better to turn for online event insights than to organizations that host a variety of quality in-person events? Prior to the pandemic, the Open Gov Hub—a “meeting place that brings together organizations, ideas, and resources to open up governments and empower citizens worldwide”—was our East Coast office and home to a variety of events including workshops, brown bag lunches, panels, and networking eventsIn a pandemic world, the Hub has moved much of their programming online.  


The basics of successful online and in-person events are the same—set clear objectives, understand your audience, engage people from start to finish—so we recommend starting with their invaluable guide for hosting events, full of facilitation activities, checklists, and pre-event planning questions.  


When the pandemic hit, the Hub quickly put together two blog posts to help members manage this transition to online events and remote work. The first is a technology Q&A with information to help you decide which is the best platform for hosting your events and tips to ensure the technology works when you need it to. The second post runs a few troubleshooting scenarios with recommendations for transitioning multi-day, in-person workshops online.   


In addition, fellow Open Gov Hub member Collective Mind—a “network of networks” and learning community for people looking to drive change through network building and collective action—organized a series of webinars on virtual facilitation and collaboration for remote groups in late March. They pulled together their learnings in this Medium story 


In this story, Collective Mind highlights the faulty assumption that there can be a one-to-one transfer from real life to virtual life.” They caution against thinking that virtual experiences will ever completely replace in-person interactions but, with this caution, point out ways to make the most from our online experiences and continue the important work of positive social change throughout this pandemic and beyond. 


Learning by doing 


Finally, we found helpful resources in the midst of planning an online panel for The Stability Network. The Stability Network is a coalition of people with diagnosed mental health conditions who are in the workforce and thriving. Their goal during this pandemic is to share resources and strategies for people who are struggling with mental health challenges like anxiety or depression as a result of COVID-19 


We pulled together some of their members—called Stability Leaders—to hold an online panel discussion on strategies for managing mental healthThe Minerva team is experienced in moderating and running in-person panels, but we wanted to make sure that we could facilitate a group discussion online that was engaging—and didn’t run into a mountain of technical issues. We combed through multiple online resourcesparticipated in online panel “trainings,” and found that this simple and straightforward article from Powerful Panels was a gold mine of information, including everything we needed to consider to make this event a success.  


We hope you find these resources as helpful as we didIf you’ve discovered great resources on running online events and meetingsplease share! We’d love to read them so send what you find to Sara [at] Minerva Strategies [dot] com.  

About The Author

Sara Veltkamp

Sara Veltkamp

Vice President

Sara lives in Chicago, Illinois and is Minerva's vice president. She takes a lead role in all aspects of Minerva Strategies’ smart communication strategies and implementation. She loves a challenge and is obsessed with learning new things, from how to use new platforms and tools for storytelling to languages like Amharic, French, or Farsi to mastering a difficult yoga pose. She applies this energy and curiosity to all clients’ communication challenges. Learn more about Sara.