NetSpeed Learning Solutions December 2017
Virtual Holiday Celebrations
A client recently asked me, "How can we celebrate during the holidays with our virtual team?" Since virtual teams are now used by nearly 49% of organizations, I'm sure she's not alone in being faced with this challenge. Below are some of the suggestions I gave her. I hope you enjoy these ideas to make a virtual celebration as playful and memorable as a face-to-face celebration.
Food -  How can everyone be eating holiday food at the same time? You might order cookie bouquets from a company that delivers to every work location, or you might send a gift card that allows everyone to order food from the same restaurant chain. The idea is to eat, drink, and be merry at the same time. When we had a retirement party recently, the group in Seattle took the retiree out to lunch at a nice restaurant. Then we all met up online for dessert and memories. In this case, I asked everyone to BYOD--bring their own favorite dessert.
Games and contests -  Assuming that everyone will be on line at the same time logged into a web conference platform like Adobe Connect or WebEx, you want to make sure everyone can be on camera, if possible. If you have groups in different offices, they can set up a webcam in a conference room so each group is on camera. Then having a holiday ugly sweater contest might be fun because everyone can see everyone else. Or have them choose appropriate holiday head gear (like reindeer antlers) for the event. Encourage cheering and groaning as you pick the ugliest sweater or the goofiest head gear.
Fun videos -  You might have everyone pick their favorite short (under two minutes) comedy video and send you the link. Preview them all for appropriateness, please. Then create a slide deck with a slide for each video with a screenshot from the video and a live hyperlink for people to click. Or alternatively, you can upload them all into your web conference platform. You could make this a little more focused (and more difficult) by giving them a theme to work with. After they watch all the videos, they can vote for the funniest video using a poll. Then award a prize such as a gift card to a nice restaurant or a gift card to an online retailer. To mix it up, have two categories of videos, comedy and inspirational. Make this more fun by buying Oscar statues and having them available at each location for special awards.
Photo memories -  You might also have people send you a photo of themselves celebrating a holiday as children so you can create a holiday slide deck. Offer the alternative of sharing a photo of themselves celebrating a decade ago, if that is easier. During the party have each person share their photo along with a simple memory the photo elicits. Put each photo on its own slide in a deck and display them one at a time. Ask each team member to speak aloud to share their memory or photo description. It's personal, humorous, and, sometimes, touching.
A variation of the photo contest idea is to ask people to costume their pets and take the pet's photo or short video wearing their holiday attire. This produces a heart-tugging cute animal effect. Have them send those photos to you in advance, of course, and you can organize them for the maximum cuteness effect.  One variation is to have people guess who is connected to each pet. 
Gift exchange -  If you have a budget for a holiday gift, then you might consider sending them out in advance to each person and have them bring their gift to the online party. Everyone can open their holiday gift at the same time. Or consider exchanging "Secret Angel" gifts. Pair everyone up across geographic locations. Tell them to spend no more than $5 and have them buy, gift wrap, and send a gift anonymously to their buddy. Then have each person open their Secret Angel gift on camera and try to guess who sent it to them.
Music -  What's a party without music? You might ask everyone to pick their favorite holiday song or their goofiest holiday song. Upload and play them during the online party. Keep a chat pod open so that they can comment on each other's musical selections.
Service -  If you have groups of people in different work locations, they could also do a holiday community service project (e.g. contribute at a food bank or complete a fundraising run). Ask them to video themselves contributing to their communities and share their short videos at the holiday party. 
I hope these online party ideas spur your creative juices. Happy Holidays!
Join us at our next complimentary webinar, Preparing New Leaders for Frontline Management on December 13, (1:00 pm ET / 10:00 am PT. And download our ebook, The Other Side of the Desk: Five Leadership Guidelines for New Managers.

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Cynthia Clay
Virtual Trainer Tips:
Cynthia Clay Hits the Road in 2018!
Plan to attend one of her upcoming sessions.
ATD Tech Knowledge Conference
January 24 - 26, 2018
San Jose McEnery Convention Center
San Jose, CA
Brain-based Learning in the Virtual Classroom
Thursday, January 25th, 3:30 - 4:30 pm
Training Magazine Conference
February 12 - 14, 2018
Georgia World Congress Center
Atlanta, GA
Brain-based Learning in the Virtual Classroom
Tuesday, February 13th, 1:45 - 2:45 pm
Manitoba - Institute for Performance and Learning
April 17, 2018
Location: TBD
Manitoba, Canada
The Virtual Facilitator Workshop: Creating High Impact Virtual Learning Experiences
Tuesday, April 17th, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
ATD International Conference & Exhibition
May 6 - 9, 2018
San Diego Convention Center
San Diego, CA
Achieving Maximum Retention: Brain-based Principles for the Virtual Classroom
Date/Time: TBD
Cynthia Clay to Present
Brain-based Principles for Engagement
and Retention in the Virtual Classroom
Experience interactive activities that model the principles presented. You will change the way you design and deliver learning experiences as you leverage the neuroscience of learning to ensure on-the-job behavior change and application of new skills.

Friday, December 15th
1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

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