. Ten Tips for Organizing Virtual Celebrations | Northstar Meetings Group

Ten Tips for Organizing Virtual Celebrations

Keeping these events alive during the pandemic can inspire employees and invigorate organizations.


COVID-19 is taking its toll on the workforce and recent studies reveal that recognition is crucial during these trying times. Though many employees are working from home, career milestones and other achievements should not be neglected; Keeping celebrations alive helps to inspire people and invigorate organizations. The following celebration tips will keep your virtual teams motivated.

Commit to the celebratory side. Realize the importance that celebrations hold in employees' lives. They are a way to honor people for their achievements and contributions. Do all you can to keep celebrations going, even if they’re done differently.

Create memories. Your job is to create recognition experiences and emotional connections that will make lasting memories for the recipients. Always set goals based on the memories you'd like to create for each person you celebrate.

Make it visual. Celebrations are very visual events. Develop creative signage to show or send to individuals participating in the event to use. Take screen captures, photos, and quotes from people who can’t attend. Use visual overlays or backgrounds for videoconferencing.

Add sound effects. Select meaningful and upbeat music to integrate with presentations. Invite all remote attendees to use noisemakers and party horns (sent in advance) at key points.

Get tactile. Ensure that awards or gifts are shipped well in advance so recipient has them in hand for the virtual event. Build in opportunities for people to applaud. Design unifying and personalized items for everyone to wear or wave like badges or posters, etc.

Add sensory touches. Remote celebrations miss out on the olfactory senses such as food. Send treats or ingredients to participants' home, so they can be enjoyed during the virtual event. If the recipient likes flowers send them an arrangement on the day of the celebration.

Up the activity. Orchestrate virtual attendees to wave hands and shout out on cue. Create a compilation video ahead of time, with the recipient's peers sending special greetings. Record a socially-distanced parade with music and banners.

Factor planning time. Always start early with planning celebrations from a distance, especially when holding virtual events. Start with your purpose and your goal. How does the organization want to be represented and by who? Think of a theme to guide preparations.

Allow improvisation. While celebrating from a distance often requires detailed planning, make sure you allow some spontaneity as well. Invite award recipients to say a few words. Bring is surprise guests of family or former managers.

Remember that timing is absolutely everything. Up the delivery dates of awards, gifts, essential props and signage. Empower managers to represent your organization and make the celebration special well in advance. Enlist a team of supportive employees willing to pull off each celebration event.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is the author of Practicing Recognition. He is also a recognition strategist and the Chief Learning Officer at Rideau Inc. Saunderson provides consulting, learning and thought-leadership services, focused on helping leaders and managers give real recognition the right way. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter and at his AuthenticRecognition.com blog.