Virtual happy hours are a great way to encourage networking or team bonding. These aren’t your standard virtual meetings or events where one person is presenting or speaking the whole time. The focus of happy hours should be to: 

  • Bring people together
  • Combat “Zoom” fatigue, 
  • Have a good time
  • Spark genuine conversations

Woman in yellow sweater smiles as she enjoys virtual content on her tablet while attending hybrid events

See how Social27 Happy Hours can help you spark conversation, encourage connection, and increase engagement.

Happy hours don’t always have to happen in the evening after work – they can also be held around lunchtime to give virtual event attendees a break and an opportunity to socialize. 

Proper planning can help you organize a happy hour that will actually make people happy! 

Unstructured or poorly planned happy hours can sometimes be awkward or unengaging, but with the right planning, they can be effective bonding or networking experiences! Here are some tips to improve your next virtual happy hour:

What’s a Happy Hour Without an Ice Breaker Game?

Icebreaker games are a classic way to spark conversation and help attendees get to know one another.  Many of these work in both video and chat happy hour formats.

Encourage everyone to introduce themselves and share something about themselves. It could be a favorite book or something that stood out to them most throughout the virtual event. You could even play a game of two truths and a lie to share some facts and get people using their investigating skills.

Trivia can be a fun virtual happy hour game for work teams. A little teamwork and friendly competition can be a meaningful team bonding experience. Trivia can also work for conference or event attendee groups as it gives people an opportunity to work together or simply flex their industry or pop culture knowledge in a fun setting.

For more competitive attendees (like sales conference attendees) or creative teams, games can be highly engaging and you have a lot of room to get creative and create unique experiences. Try charades, a virtual paint and sip, or show and tell to get people talking and having fun.

Pick a Theme or Topic

Happy hours are a great place to network – but it’s easier to get people talking and excited to attend when you plan happy hours around a central topic or theme.

If you’re planning a happy hour to take place during or after a conference or other virtual event, you can tie in some themes or topics from the event. Some attendees may want a place to debrief after the event and discuss their takeaways from sessions with others. Happy hours can be a casual and fun place to do that. You can also create fun themes related to the industry or event topics to add a humorous twist on industry topics to contrast from serious sessions and discussions that took place during the actual event.

Consider less industry-specific themes or topics too. Relaxation activities like sound baths or virtual yoga classes are a big hit with attendees that need to wind down and practice some self-care after a busy event day. A recent virtual event organizer on the Social27 Event Platform even live-streamed a virtual cooking class to attendees! Think out of the box to create fun experiences that will bring attendees together.

Know Your Target Audience

Create happy hours for certain segments of your attendee group. 

The best way to make any virtual event or activity a success is to understand your target audience. Find out what they are interested in personally and professionally to create enriching happy hour experiences.

Hosting a conference in a male-dominated field? Consider a happy hour for women to network and connect with each other. Hosting a tech conference? Create some happy hours for certain segments of the field to discuss their thoughts and how any new products unveiled will impact their area of work (i.e. app developers discussing new mobile technology or IT specialists discussing new office or productivity software). Help attendees find the right people to network or hold conversations with so that they can get the most out of a happy hour.

Happy Hour Chats

There are also opportunities to use written communication and chat formats to create positive happy hour experiences. If your virtual happy hour is part of a larger event like a conference, consider hosting some happy hour chat sessions.

Happy Hours over video provide a great chance to get to know others and put a face to names you might’ve seen on chat messages or email threads, however spending too much time on camera is exhausting. Zoom fatigue sets in after spending too much time engaging with others over video calls. This fatigue stems from the additional mental load that processing and expressing information over video calls require.  

We must work harder to emote and often have an enhanced awareness of how we appear while on a Zoom or video call. We also need to pay closer attention to what is being said by others and work harder to process communication with limited nonverbal cues. 

A fatigued happy hour group will not be a happy and engaged group, so incorporate chat options and space out activities to build in breaks throughout the work or event day.

Create Flexible Ongoing Discussions

These happy hour chats can also be ongoing throughout the event to allow people to pop into network or share their thoughts on event content throughout a larger virtual event. 

Sometimes attendees want to keep the conversation going after a session, or certain event content will help spark unique ideas or questions that attendees would like to discuss with a larger group. Scheduling happy hour chats throughout the event rather than only at traditional happy hour times gives attendees more opportunities to connect and engage with one another. It’s also helpful for attendees in different time zones or who can’t attend 5pm happy hours due to family responsibilities. Give attendees multiple opportunities to participate on their own schedules.

Happy hour chat users can also break out into video discussions if they find that a topic warrants further discussion. On the Social27 Event Platform, happy hour chat members can break out into boardrooms or roundtables to expand their conversation into an audio and video format. This dynamic approach lets attendees connect in a variety of mediums as they feel comfortable.

Use the Right Video Format for Your Content and Audience

Many people mistakenly see virtual meeting formats as a disadvantage, but they can actually provide more opportunities for genuine connection if done right. We’ve talked about the benefits of happy hour chats, but if participants aren’t feeling too much Zoom fatigue, video gatherings can be useful too.

Networking produces the best results when you spark a personal and professional connection with others. 

Encourage people to show their space or something important to them. An office or desk tour can be a fun way to get to know more about others while maintaining a more work-focused happy hour. Or have someone show their favorite thing in their office. It could be a drawing that their child made, a favorite book, a handy tool that helps them tremendously with work that they recommend everyone obtain, or even a pet sleeping in the corner of their home office. 

We tend to put a lot of ourselves into our spaces, and the virtual happy hour format allows others to get to know us and relate to us better by observing our environment. It’s also easier for attendees to feel comfortable reaching out to each other after the happy hour for further networking if they’ve had more genuine interactions.

Optimize Your Happy Hour Experience 

Social27 Event Platform has a variety of happy hour options to help you plan engaging happy hours for your next virtual event. Attendees can join a specialized Happy Hour session or ongoing group chat during an event to connect with up to 49 other users.

Set up a demo today to learn more about what Social27 has to offer event organizers and attendees.