With Coronavirus on everyone’s radar, planning events has posed numerous challenges. Some issues we have come across include: How do we keep the feeling of community? How do we encourage people to attend? What times/days should we hold events? Having to switch events from in person to online is challenging but by hosting multiple events online, NFTY-STR has come up with these tips so you can make the most of your events and have fun with them too!
Plan with intention
When creating programs, you need to plan with a goal in mind. Ask yourself before you start “What do I want the participants to get out of this program?” Once you know what that is, whether it’s a just for fun activity or a lesson to be learned, you can begin brainstorming different activities and ways to make your idea come to life. Keep the intention in the back of your mind when creating a program for your peers.
Put yourself in the participants perspective
When you have your idea, stop and ask yourself, “If I am attending this event, would I enjoy it or not?” If you answer yes, good job, you are on the right track. If you answered no, reevaluate what you are doing. Stay away from discussions with one or two people talking for long periods of time because this takes away from the participation of multiple people and in a virtual setting, it is exhausting and boring in the participants eyes. Instead, incorporate more engaging activities that encourage everyone to participate.
Be creative & engaging with programing
This is such a broad saying and can seem difficult when you are stuck on a zoom call, but luckily there are so many online options that allow for you to engage participants beyond Kahoot. For example, try an online scavenger hunt, a competition, or play an interesting Ted Talk that allows you to see things in a different perspective. Interactive activities that engage participants in a creative manner, rather than solely listen to someone else speak, allow for people to enjoy your events and want to come back
Incorporate multiple interests
The beauty of being able to create events online is that you can allow for multiple interests to be included. Try to take a survey of what people’s hobbies are and what they enjoy so you can include everyone in your programs. Each event you can rotate activities such as sports, music, social action, arts & crafts, etc. You can pair up with other TYG’s (temple youth groups) or the Regional Board and create clubs for anyone to join or have an event and split people up into breakout rooms according to their interests. This allows not only for people to meet new friends with similar interests but it also allows for people to discover new interests.
Be aware of screen time
Because a lot of activities have been moved to online platforms, an abundance of screen time can be unattractive to some participants. Sitting for long periods of time is not appealing when you could be doing active things after a long school day. Get creative with programming and you could even incorporate physical activity into your programs, such as a “Zoom”ba (zumba) dance break!
One way to create a sense of community is by pre-recording videos. Have participants send in videos before your event as this is another way to have as many people as possible participate and feel included. During the event you can play this video you created and expand on your purpose of doing so. It creates cohesiveness between everyone and allows participants to have their ideas be heard.
Take advantage of Zoom
Break the awkward silence in the zoom room and play music while waiting for the event to start, or ask a question in the chat and allow for people to answer and communicate with one another. Share your screen if a visual is needed or use the whiteboard feature to play games. Another way to create a sense of community is spotlighting people when they are answering questions or sharing their thoughts on a topic. If your program is discussion oriented, make use of breakout rooms.
Remember the value of adult-teen partnership
You are not alone in your planning! Besides working with your advisors or temple clergy members you can also use the alumni network to find an adult mentor for your NFTYx event. It is very helpful to have an adult on your calls to help with facilitating conversation. You can always reach out to your regional board who is more than willing to help you plan an event!
Make a conscious effort with timing
During the school year people have a lot of different things going on: extracurriculars such as sports, band, theater, jobs, etc. Because of this, you want to make the most of their time, and yours. When planning an event, focus on the time table and follow it when executing your event. When advertising, include the start and end times so people can plan their day/night around events. Vary the times of your events to see which time yields the best participant turnout. This also gives the opportunity for other people to join your events.
Communication is Key
Now that you planned your event with intentionality, made it engaging, paired with an adult and picked a date, you need to get the word out. Create a flyer, including registration information and post it on social media, tagging your TYG and @NFTY_STR.
We hope these tips are helpful to you in all your planning, and allow for your creativity to run wild.The NFTY-STR Regional board has been busy planning ourselves so in addition to our monthly Mixer Monday’s, be on the lookout for NFTY-STR events in the near future! Be sure to check out our instagram @nfty_str and our facebook @nftystr for more information, and be sure to create an account on rjonthego.com and register for NFTYx events!! See you all soon!
Special thanks to Sam Bernbaum, GORFTY, for contributing his advice.