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During a global pandemic, every day is Groundhog Day — we get up, shower. If we’re fortunate, we work from home. Night comes and we switch from the Bad Screen (laptop) to The Good Screen (TV). Then we sleep before getting up and doing it all over again. One key ingredient is missing here: surprise. This means if you want to spice up an online event, the easiest possible way to do this is with surprise guests.

Why surprises are more important than ever…

The key aspect here is delight. Which guest would give your guests a feeling of genuine joy? This doesn’t necessarily have to be a celebrity or well-known speaker. This simply has to be someone who can inform, entertain or make your guests feel something.

Find someone who can speak from the heart

If your event is focused on a specific issue, inviting someone to speak who is genuinely affected by the problem is a great way to humanise a topic that might seem overly theoretical when discussed in the abstract. For example, if you are holding a supply chain conference, why not pay someone living in a remote rural community to speak on the issues they may face in getting materials delivered for their business?

Find an expert on the topic

Alternatively, inviting someone to speak who has written a book or lectured on the topic is a great way to ensure exposure for them and an informative, interesting take for you — as well as a surprising element to a conference.

Invite a surprise animal guest

If you’d simply like to lighten the mood, nothing goes down better than a surprise animal guest! Sweet Farm, an animal sanctuary based in California offers a “Goat 2 Meetings” initiative where they send one of their animals (not necessarily a goat — if you’re lucky you might end up with a llama, pictured above) to guest-star in a zoom meeting. 

Finally…

Whoever you opt to include, keep your guest star on the low! The key element here: introducing the spontaneity we all yearn for.

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