INDUSTRY FORUM WOMEN IN TOYS WiT Designs Their Virtual Events With Purpose, and So Can You! by Shannon
Over the past two years, virtual gatherings have become our new normal for just about everything — staff meetings, hangouts with friends and family, and all kinds of other events. We may be used to it now, but initially, the pivot to virtual was challenging for many of us. In 2020, I was hired as the Program Manager for Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment, to help find ways for the women of our industry to engage with one another in meaningful and authentic ways, even when we couldn’t see each other face-to-face. But of course, that was easier said than done. Prior to the pandemic, like so many other organizations, WiT primarily hosted in-person events. The pivot to virtual events presented us with an opportunity to rethink how we’ve engaged members in the past and assess the needs of women in the toy, licensing, and entertainment industries. From always focusing on our “why,” to taking a human-centered approach, to being intentional with our programming every step of the way — it continues to be my goal to find ways to create the transformative and impactful virtual programs our community wants and needs. Here’s a peek into the process we use at WiT, with some questions that will help you design your next virtual event or program for your audiences.
1. What is your “why?” When it comes to planning our events and programs at WiT, we do our best to carefully consider the “why” behind every opportunity we create. Is the purpose for attendees to learn something specific? Meet someone new? Share an idea? Share a story? Make a friend? Feel less alone? Each event’s purpose is unique and specific and helps us to make decisions on how we design the experience. This approach is inspired by Priya Parker and her book, “The Art of Gathering.” Priya says “The first step to 24 tfe February 2022
creating more meaningful transformative gatherings is to just pause and say what is the purpose of this gathering?” She urges readers to get really specific about what they want to accomplish and achieve through a gathering. For example, when WiT was planning our Virtual Recess event series last summer, our purpose was to create a gathering where all attendees would smile, laugh, and press pause on their workday to-dos to fully engage in a “play break” activity. These events, therefore, became less about learning how to be an expert juggler, and more about giving it a go and enjoying the process of learning and playing along.