How to Prevent Online Meetings From Being a “Drag”

Curtis Sparrer

January 05, 2022

Bospar has been a remote, work-from-home agency since our launch in 2015. So, we know a little about online meetings, and we were experts at them even before the global coronavirus pandemic. PRovoke called us “prescient” for leveraging a virtual strategy before the world shut down.

That said, we’ve always known that online meetings – while usually very businesslike – can be a bit dry. Particularly so when you’re trying to have an employee gathering, celebration or party. But we’ve never let technology get in the way of our having a good time.

So, being inspired by a 50-person Zoom birthday party, PRSA went about planning an outrageous – and outrageously fun – online event for the PRSA Silicon Valley Media Predicts party.

With the able assistance of Schwa, a drag queen from Screaming Queens Entertainment, we hosted “Media Bingo,” with wine as prizes for the winners. According to one of our winners, “Of all the things in the world, I did not expect to be playing virtual drag bingo, LOL.”

Other journalists and PR pros in attendance echoed that sentiment – but the real winner was our emcee Schwa. The audience was in love with Schwa’s pink outfit, and my favorite comment about her was, “slay the bells hunny.” The PRSA’s event got universally great reviews from the audience, transforming what could have been yet another dry online presentation into a fun, fast-paced event, which will stay top-of-mind with our colleagues and business associates for a long time to come – and encourage them to come back to next year’s event.

Drag and its attendant outrageousness work so well in virtual meetings because they are the opposite of dry and boring. PR professionals can take a number of lessons from the Media Predicts event, in terms of making their own virtual events more fun and engaging.

First, be bold! Deviate from the expected and from the status quo. Nobody was expecting that a sassy drag queen would be hosting the PRSA event, and the surprise alone was a big thrill. And when Schwa engaged with and delighted the entire audience, they were hooked. In addition to a fun theme like a drag queen emcee, include other elements that will engage, like instant polls and free-form discussions about current events and/or pop culture and even games like “two truths and a lie.” Use humor, appropriately and where it makes sense, and if all else fails – award prizes like PRSA Silicon Valley did. Though it doesn’t have to be wine!

Engaging with your audience always makes online meetings better. And humor always wins the day – just ask the attendees of the most recent PRSA Media Predicts party. They’ll confess to having a great time…and that a “drag” can be a good thing!

Curtis Sparrer is a principal of Bospar PR. He has represented brands like PayPal, Tetris and the alien hunters of the SETI Institute. He is a member of the Forbes Communications Council and has written for Adweek, Forbes, the Dallas Morning News, and PRWeek. He is an active member of the National Lesbian Gay Journalist Association.  Business Insider has twice listed him as one of the Top Fifty in Tech PR.

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