In Season 2, Episode 1 of the TeamBonding podcast, host Richard Rininsland and his guests — Deborah Brunet, Kevin Pertusiello, Samantha Goldstein, and Paul Giroux — discuss team building events from creation to sales and production to performance in a wide-ranging, animated conversation that provides an insider’s viewpoint. In particular, this group of expert team building event facilitators take a closer look at the “three-minute rule” and their individual tried and true ways to keep virtual audiences engaged.

What is the 3-Minute Rule and How Can You Apply It to Virtual Events?

Giroux says that, in general, you have three minutes to get people to engage at any event — live or virtual. While you have a lot of tools at your disposal for an in-person event, when it comes to virtual, the group notes, it can be a bit more difficult — but it’s not impossible.

Listen to this full Episode “Behind the Curtain!” on our Podcast page.

“It’s all about understanding the virtual platform and showing people quickly that it’s going to be fun and that it’s okay to relax,” Giroux says. There are several different ways to get your team involved right from the start, and this podcast touches on a few of them in more detail, including the following:

  • Use movement — no one wants to just be sitting still staring at a screen, or watching someone else sitting still. Get up and move around, and encourage your team to do the same! Be animated, and you will engage with your audience right from the start.
  • Use music — get people to dance, to sing along, to even bob their heads to a tune they like. Music is a great way to fire up a crowd, whether live or in person.
  • Call on people by name! Virtual events aren’t pre-recorded shows, but it can be hard to remember you’re not just watching a video. Break through that by engaging with team members directly, and get them talking to each other.

What it comes down to, the TeamBonding experts agree, is getting people to engage with the event and the facilitator right from the very start. The ability to do that not only speaks to the expertise of the person hosting, but to the quality of the experience being promised to the entire team.

“If I walked out, live in front of 800 people or 20 people, it didn’t matter. You have three minutes, and they’re in, or they’re out,” said Giroux, who stresses that live events are no different when it comes to virtual events. “They’re going to judge you within those three minutes — ‘I’m with you for the ride,’ or ‘I’m out.’”

So How Do You Create an Engaging Event?

Rininsland, Brunet, Pertusiello, Goldstein, and Giroux go further to examine what it takes to develop a wildly successful and highly engaging virtual team event. To hear all the tips and tricks you’ll need to tune in to the entire podcast, but here are a few highlights:

  1. Collaboration.

As Giroux points out, a great event starts with a team working together to find the right idea, for the right group, and then determine how to execute it perfectly.

“Collaboration — oftentimes I’m working with owners and they’re brainstorming something. They go, ‘Oh, that would be great at this.’ If they give me a call, ‘what do you think about this idea?’ And then I’ll add in all the different pieces of the pie, from different things we’ve led or different ideas I have, or online platforms, and then take that idea and then put it into reality.”

A great event has to begin with that idea, but it also has to be the right event for your team. As you plan your next team bonding event — live or virtual — take a few minutes to talk to your staff. What types of events do they enjoy? What do they dread? What gets them excited? This collaboration will lead you toward the right event.

  1. Use the lure of the famous and familiar.

People like things they are already familiar with — maybe it’s a game show the entire staff loves, or a show they all watch. If an event is built with that at the core, then automatically the team will be more engaged from the very start. It’s not as hard to get people excited about events they already have a positive emotion toward.

“We have to make sure when we design things, people don’t want to reach for that remote,” said Giroux. “They want to stay tuned in. They’re either engaged or fully part of [the event], or they want to know what’s coming next.” That, he stresses, is a big key. If you only have three minutes to get someone to go all-in with a virtual event, starting from a place where they’re already excited is going to make it quite a bit easier.

  1. Zoom time!

When the pandemic first started and everything went virtual, the group noted, there was a belief that no one would want to spend much time in front of a camera on a virtual event. 30 minutes, the “conventional wisdom” suggested, was the ideal length of a meeting. But the reality is that if the event is fun and engaging, people don’t actually mind being there.

“Over and over and over when people even book these 60-minute events [the feedback we’re getting is that] is they were having so much fun, they would’ve stayed longer,” said Goldstein. “That they wish they had booked 90 minutes.” She notes, “I think that has been one surprise of the whole thing, is the intention span on Zoom and through these virtual events is actually, I think, a little bit longer than people anticipate.”

But, she stresses, getting that engagement comes right back around to having an engaging event in the first place. No one wants to sit for yet another Zoom meeting where they’re just listening to people talk. But events where they are actively participating and having a good time they are more than willing to give their full time and attention, and it doesn’t matter if it’s live or virtual — a great event is always going to end with people walking away talking about what they learned, and what a great time they had.

That’s just a small preview of the great conversation and tips that Rininsland, Brunet, Pertusiello, Goldstein, and Giroux share in the podcast. To learn more, listen to this entire podcast and stay tuned for the next exciting episode. Watch all episodes on our Team Building Saves the World Podcast.


Amanda Deiratani

Team Contributor


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