One unexpected silver-lining to this social distancing stuff is that I’ve spent MORE time with friends I haven’t seen in months or years. How? Through the magic of Video Chat and the rise of Virtual “Happy Hours.”
Virtual happy hours are happening all over the place now, and it seems to be growing daily. With social gatherings discouraged right now, people have turned to online solutions to meet with their friends and video chat software is the answer. If you haven’t joined a virtual hangout, or have been thinking of starting one, we’re here to help you with the process.
Choose Your Platform
There are lots of free video chat apps that work on phones, laptops, or desktops, including Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and Google Hangouts. Choose one to host your virtual happy hour or see what your friends are using and adopt that one.
Consider a Theme for Your Virtual Event
Is it a beer tasting? A cocktail hour? A dinner party? Picking a theme will provide structure, as well as help those who are new to virtual hangouts navigate this new medium.
Keep it Small
You might be blessed with a massive amount of friends, but for a virtual happy hour, you should try to keep it small. More than 8 or 10 people and you have chaos. Think about grouping your friends based on where you know them from or shared interests, or host a party where you introduce friends to other friends of yours that they haven’t met.
Want More Information on Virtual Events – Check out our Virtual Events Comprehensive Guide
Create a Facebook Event
Setting a time lets people plan ahead and prepare. You can also use the event to share the link to the party. Make sure you encourage people to bring a beverage.
Think About Your Background and Lighting
Fortunately, this can be your reminder to shower for the week. Make yourself presentable, and try to find a good backdrop for your video. Many of the video chat programs have fun backdrop options, but they don’t always work out well, so having a clean space behind you will work well.
We’re going to do a full post about lighting a virtual event, but you should try to have two lights in front of you to stay well lit and to remove any shadows. Also make sure there isn’t anything too bright behind you, or people won’t be able to see you well.
How’s the Ambient Noise?
A barking dog or crying child can distract people in the happy hour. Try to find a quiet place with no distractions to host the event. You should also turn off the ringer on your phone so notifications don’t chime through. You could also have quiet music playing in the background, or Spotify even has a few Quarantine Playlists.
Be the Host or Choose Someone Else to Host
You might think that with a large group of people, the conversation will flow naturally, but that’s not always the case. The host should be prepared to start things off, and to guide the conversation if it dips. Keep the conversation light, but prepare a few questions ahead of time in case everyone goes quiet. Here are a few ideas:
Encourage people to use the Grid Mode
Once the virtual happy hour starts, you should encourage everyone to use grid mode. Most of the video chat platforms offer it as an option, and it allows you to see everyone in the chat at one time in equal-sized boxes. It feels a lot more like sitting around with friends when you can see everyone.
End on a High Note and Discuss Plans for Your Next Virtual Happy Hour
As the discussion starts to wind down, toast everyone and discuss plans for doing another one soon.
We’ll have more posts about Virtual Happy Hours and Virtual Events over the next few days. Use this downtime to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. With all the solitude going on, being able to see and talk to people is great for boosting spirits. Try to at least one a week and see how you feel.
Have you already participated or hosted one? Tell us how it went in the comments!