Bringing more energy to your online event

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most WordPress events are online. Please refer to our online events handbook.

For communities where COVID-19 has been more effectively contained or have easy access to COVID-19 vaccination and/or testing, returning to hosting an in-person meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. event is possible, with caution, using the resources provided. If you plan to move forward with an in-person meetup, you must use the provided checklist .

This handbook page is based on a Tuesday Training by @tacoverdo.

If you’ve ever been to a conference, you’ll know there’s always a point where the audience has a harder time paying attention to the speaker. Known moments for that are in the early morning, right at the start of the event, right after lunch, and late in the afternoon. You’ve probably seen an MC step up at that time and come up with a joke, a fun exercise, or something else to get the blood flowing again. 

In online events, these energizers are way harder, and all the more important! Because your attendees are staring at a screen instead of at a live human being. Because they don’t have to walk to another room or building for a session. Because it’s easier to get distracted when nobody sees you’re secretly on your phone. And many other reasons. So it requires extra effort from the event’s MC or host to get the party started. 

To help you do that, here are some energizers to try out at your next online event!

I’m this GIF I’m this GIF

Added by: @tacoverdo

Duration: 2 minutes per GIF 

Preparation: Find 10 funny GIFs on giphy.com and save their links.

How to do this energizer?

The host shares the link to one of the GIFs, for example this one. In the chat of your online event, every person now explains how this GIF describes them. Give everyone about 60 seconds to reply and then another minute to read all the responses. Then move on to the next gif.

If you’re at a smaller event or want to do this in breakout rooms, you can have each person give their description liveon video. While this is really fun, be aware this will quickly take loads of time! 

Example responses to the example
“This is my face when I eat chicory.” 

“My default response to the use of tabs instead of spaces.”

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Places I have been & want to go back to Places I have been & want to go back to

Added by: @manzwebdesigns

Duration: 3 minutes

Preparation: None

How to do this energizer?

The host asks the attendees to think of a place where they have been to and would love to go back, then share it and why they would want to. Give everyone about 90 seconds to reply and then another 90 seconds to read all the responses. Then encourage those who have common destinations to connect with each other?

Example response
“I would love to go back to Pecs, Hungary because I would love to explore the catacombs there.  Also because I love the culture there.”

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Emoji Check-in 🥳 Emoji Check-in 🥳

Added by: @afshanadiya

Duration: Open for 5 minutes or Full time

Preparation: Everyone

How to do this energizer?

Before we start the event, the host can ask the attendees to check in with emojis. Instead of going full intro, or even the ones who will join late, we can ask to pick an emoji that best describes how they are feeling right now to join this event. It’s a super quick one, everyone will participate as they don’t have to think much!

Example response: 😍 😎 🤓 🧑‍💻 🥳

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Let’s roam & explore my city Let’s roam & explore my city

Added by: @afshanadiya

Duration: 5 minutes

Preparation: None

How to do this energizer?

This can be a super fun icebreaker, especially when most of the people are joining from different cities around the work.

Each person takes turns to give a quick tour of his/her current city, i.e. walk everyone through the city you are in, what’s the best part of your city or what is your city famous for?

This can be a fun way to get to know each other and have a tour of multiple cities even though you may be halfway across the world from one another. 

The host can set a time limit — 60 seconds per person. But if you have a large group, keep a timer or take the first 10-20 participants, based on the time we will have. 

Example response:

“I’m currently living in Dubai city which is the home of World’s tallest building, biggest shopping malls, most expensive hotel rooms, man-made islands and more. Fun facts, there are 7 times more foreigners than the locals in Dubai and interestingly, there is no personal or income tax at all! And Dubai has ATM booth that dispenses gold rather than money 😛 !”

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How does your family / your culture cook rice? How does your family / your culture cook rice?

Added by: @kdrewien

Duration: variable, dependent on the number of participants (at least 10 minutes)

Preparation: no advanced preparation necessary

Recommendations for success: 

  • The exercise works well in groups of varying sizes. 
    • A minimum of 5 respondents encourages camaraderie. 
    • Try to limit responses to a maximum of 15 respondents although the group can be larger. Or, break the larger group into smaller groups of 5-7 participants. 
  • I prefer visual participation. Participants’ facial expressions of excitement are contagious.
  • Invite participants to answer as they are inclined. 
  • Be attentive to participants who want to speak yet are hesitant to jump in. Call them by name and ask, “What’s your favorite way to eat rice?
  • Pay attention to the time. People love to talk about food.

Example response:
My mother taught me to add 1-part rice to 2-parts water but now I’ve switched to Asian methods of rinsing the rice and measuring by hand. A classic Southern recipe is Chicken & Rice.

This little question about rice transitions to a more substantive discussion about how the same topic can mean many things to different people, and the way we engage with differences matters.

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Introduce each other Introduce each other

Added by: @angelasjin

Duration: ~8 min per group

Preparation: Use breakout rooms and randomly assign two people to rooms

How to do this energizer? 

  1. Randomly assign groups of two to breakout rooms, and give them 5 min to get to know each other. Allowing people this freeform time allows them to get to know each other more deeply!
  2. Bring everyone back to the main room. 
  3. Instead of introducing yourself, you’ll be introducing your partner! 

Example response

This is Taco Verdonschot! He’s a Community Manager with Yoast, and a Community DeputyDeputy Community Deputies are a team of people all over the world who review WordCamp and Meetup applications, interview lead organizers, and generally keep things moving at WordCamp Central. Find more about deputies in our Community Deputy Handbook. on the WordPress Community Team. He’s particularly passionate about contributor experience, and hopes to welcome new WordPress enthusiasts in a way that encourages them to stick around for a long time. Outside of WordPress, Taco loves being a dad!

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Show and Tell Show and Tell

Added by: @angelasjin

Duration: 2 min per person

Preparation: None

How to do this energizer? 

We only see so much of people on a video call, so invite them to show something that they keep on their desk or around them! 

Example response

During the pandemic, I became an indoor gardener! I’ve been growing mini bell peppers and herbs next to my desk. 

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Three brands Three brands

Added by: @tacoverdo

Duration: 1 min per person in the breakout room

Preparation: None

How to do this energizer?

Send people off into breakout rooms of 5 people max. Person A gives person B 3 brands. Person B briefly explains why those brands are or aren’t a good fit for their person. Then person B gives person C 3 brands, and they get to explain why they are or aren’t a good fit. 

If your attendees need help coming up with international brands, they can use this spinning wheel.

Example 

Tesla, Stack Overflow, Apple.
Tesla is a great fit because I would love to own a Cybertruck. Stack overflow is a great fit because, for every little bit of coding I do, I need it. Badly. Apple is an ok fit, I like their products, but they’re so expensive!

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Prezi madness Prezi madness

Added by: @tacoverdo

Duration: 3 min per person 

Preparation: Find one prezi per participant at https://prezi.com/gallery/ and check if they’re family-friendly.

How to do this energizer?

Find yourself a few volunteers. Open a prezi and share your screen. The first volunteer now gives the presentation you click through. End after 3 minutes, or just before things get awkward for the volunteer. Repeat with as many volunteers as you have prezi presentations.

Example 

You open https://prezi.com/p/nsmmj4vu6ofr/coaching-teaching-and-herding-cats/

The volunteer now “gives” this presentation by improvising a nice story around the slides. 

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Follow the leader Follow the leader

Added by: @tacoverdo

Duration: A few times 1 min

Preparation: Find a few happy songs (do listen to the lyrics to make sure they’re family-friendly)

How to do this energizer?

Ask volunteers to raise their hand in the online video platform, or make a list of volunteers. Spotlight one of the volunteers in your video meeting. He/she dances to the music while everyone else follows their lead. After 1 minute, spotlight another volunteer. They now take the lead and the rest has to follow their moves. 

Example 

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Scavenger hunt Scavenger hunt

Added by: @tacoverdo

Duration: 5 min per round

Preparation: Prepare a slide that has 5 words of daily household items for every round.

How to do this energizer?

Everyone has to find and show the 5 items on the slide in their house and show it on video, or by sending a photo in the chat. If you want to add competition, the first to show all 5 items wins. Otherwise, limit to 5 minutes of searching.

It may be handy to have a time-keeper to help you keep an eye on the clock, and to help you spot the person who says the items first. 

Example 

Slide 1: Pen, glass, pillow, shirt, spoon.

Slide 2: Fire, flower, sock, thermometer, remote.

Slide 3: Book, computer (especially funny if you require them to show it on camera), charger, candy. 

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This is my pet This is my pet

@tacoverdoAdded by: @tacoverdo

Duration: A few minutes

Preparation: None

How to do this energizer?

Ask people to show their pet (or plant, or kids, or a fun selfie! It can be a picture). Give attendees time to respond to each other’s pets.

Depending on the size of the event, you may do this by inviting people on video. With bigger groups, we strongly recommend using the chat to post the pictures as this takes significantly less time. 

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