Kaity Goodwin on Virtual Event Success

Everything you need to know to run a flawless virtual event, as told by the Queen herself.

When it comes to planning, marketing, logistics, and scheduling events, Kaity Goodwin is your lady! Kaity is the queen of events and someone who I had the pleasure of working with during my time in college. Last Spring, when we were forced to move home from Babson due to the pandemic, Kaity was one of the first people to step up and tackle our college’s Campus Activities Board transition to running virtual events. After almost one year of virtual event marketing and planning, Kaity has seen and done it all, making her the perfect resource for any virtual planners out there! The virtual floor is all yours Kaity!

Kaity! Tell the blog community a little bit about yourself and maybe how we got to know each other! (Go CAB!)

Screen Shot 2021-02-08 at 6.19.40 PMHiiii Ursula :)) sure! I always like to say three of my biggest passions are art and design, event planning, and making people smile. I love thinking creatively and acting on that creativity. I’m passionate about graphic design and love experimenting with the latest software, whether on my laptop or iPad! This definitely stems from my love for event planning and creating fun, engaging, and new events for my community, whether it was in my role as Vice President of Events for the Babson Campus Activities Board, creating programs for my residents as a Resident Assistant, or planning fun arts and crafts projects during my time as a camp counselor. The creative side of event planning is definitely what appeals to me, and that leads to my third passion which is making people smile! I’m definitely motivated by how others react to my work, and it pushes and drives me to do my best to make others’ experiences worthwhile. 

I had the absolute pleasure of working closely with Ursula during my role as VP of Events for CAB! I got to interview and select Ursula to fill our vacant President position at the end of the Fall of 2019 and could definitely see some of the same passions and qualities that she had for event planning. We were able to create some fabulous events in the Winter of 2020, but then had to make the tricky transition into virtual events once COVID-19 hit and our campus was sent home for the remainder of the semester. 

What is your involvement with Campus Activities and why do you love it so much?

I’ve been involved with the Babson Campus Activities Board (CAB) since my Freshman year at Babson. I loved attending events during my freshman fall- and even won some AWESOME prizes- and knew that I had to be a part of this amazing organization. I had done a lot of event planning in high school and it was definitely something that I strongly considered- and am still considering!- as a career path when I entered college. 

I was on the Events Committee my Freshman year and was later elected to Vice President of Events for my Sophomore year where we created some great events, resurrected old campus traditions, and even created some new “CAB staple events”. I’m currently in my Junior year at Babson serving as the VP of Marketing, where I’m working on creating different avenues of marketing on campus besides social media, and also defining and refining a CAB Brand Book to help really solidify our brand and vision to the rest of the campus!

Pre-COVID, some of my favorite things were seeing the long line of people waiting to get into an event, or seeing friends talk about events and encouraging each other to go. Once I saw the auditorium filled with smiling, laughing faces, I knew that no matter what the stress or difficulties were leading up to the event- and trust me, there were many- that I had done my job and seeing the joy and happiness from students was all that mattered. 

Overall, being able to give back to my community with something that I love doing, and look forward to doing every day is what is most rewarding about being on CAB!

What are the most successful virtual events that you have hosted that others can put on themselves?

Virtual Bingo – a classic! At Babson, however, it can be a little difficult to make sure to cover all your cheating loopholes since we have some very ~competitive~ students. We create a google form for sign-ups and use a bingo card distributor.

Pet Photo Contests – people love taking pictures of their pets, and your viewers will also love seeing these adorable photos as well! We had a holiday-themed pet photo contest and let our Instagram followers vote on their favorites. (prizes included pet co gift cards)

Photo Scavenger Hunt – set out a list of 15-20 items and instruct participants to find at least 10 or so of them. We encourage our students to get creative by incentivizing with judging categories such as “most cohesive photo” where they should combine as many items as they can to create a cohesive scene!

Virtual Escape Room – this can be done through a vendor (like CAB did) or homegrown! I created a homegrown version for a different organization that utilized Google sheets and form validation logic! It was a lot of fun to make, and participants really enjoyed the mini-games and puzzles sprinkled throughout. 

Book Club – we mailed hard and e-copies of several great titles to our students. After about two weeks, everyone hopped on a zoom call and discussed the book with some guided questions. Those who attended had a great time and we had many requests to keep it going throughout the summer and into the next year!

Among Us Tournament – we gathered everyone on a zoom call and divided into different breakout rooms. I was able to set up a tournament point system using an excel sheet and had one EBoard member in each breakout room taking scores for their group. After 2 games, everyone switched rooms and played with new people. 

Caption Contest – another fun and simple social media contest. We posted a photo of Babson’s beloved mascot doing something a little funny and challenged our followers to come up with some creative captions! This can certainly be done for multiple different occasions.

Social Media Scavenger Hunt – this one is still in the works, but something I am very excited to launch! To work on increasing our followers not only on Instagram, but on our other platforms (events google calendar, Snapchat, mailing list, etc.) we’ll be hosting a scavenger hunt where participants will have to visit and like/subscribe to the various platforms to receive a piece of the puzzle to win a prize! 

Overall Tip – use sites like linktree, bit.ly or tinyurl to help your users access events, links, or event codes with ease! 

Why do you believe virtual programming is important during this time?

Programming pre-COVID was definitely a necessity and something that everyone looked forward to. Without CAB, I wouldn’t have made the friends I have today and would have definitely missed out on a lot of great experiences that shaped my freshman year and how I started off at college. Programming and events are important to so many people and to me, even if the virtual programs are different, they’re still important and still should be held, regardless of turnout. They still provide ways to connect with new people and even though we don’t actually see them physically, I definitely have a few “regulars” who I recognize their name when they pop up into events and we’ve even said hi to each other a few times when going to class or getting food! 

Just like regular programming, you never know how an event could impact someone, and in my opinion, almost nothing negative can come from having a program, whether in person or virtual!

What is one event that you haven’t done yet, but are hoping to in the future?

One event I was really looking forward to hosting with my co-VP of Event last year was our “cash CAB” event where we would rent a golf cart, drive around giving students rides to class, while simultaneously asking them trivia questions for a chance to win some Amazon Gift Cards. It was unfortunately canceled due to COVID, but I am hopeful that next spring we’ll be able to host it!

What is your advice for other Campus Activities Boards or virtual programmers out there?

Hang in there! It’s tough, but your job is so important and I’m sure your students are grateful for your events and having something to do. Diversify your event portfolio and take this time to try something new that maybe you were unsure of before. Talk to other Programming Boards from other schools and see what they’re doing! You may get some really cool ideas or some of their events might inspire you. 

What are some qualities that a good Campus Activities Board member must possess in order to be successful in pulling off virtual events?

Celebrate virtually

Adaptable – some of our greatest virtual events are in-person events that we were able to convert to a virtual environment! Think about the key elements of each event and how they can be translated virtually. 

Creative – you definitely gotta think outside the box!! Virtual programming is hard, and people get tired of Bingo and trivia every other weekend. We are living in a very technologically advanced and evolutionary world, use it to your advantage!

Organized and Calculated – maybe YOU don’t have to be this person (maybe you’re the idea person!), but you (or someone) will need to think through every step of the event from start to finish as to how a student or participant would see it. In an in-person event, if there’s a problem, it’s easy to run over and patch up or make an announcement. But if you’re sending out links, docs, or other things that can’t be changed later… that could cause confusion amongst participants. 

Confidence and Fun – radiate confidence! If you believe you can pull this event off and it will be fun, your energy and enthusiasm will rub off on the rest of your team and on all your participants! If you are having fun, so will they!

Do you have faith that on-campus events will return? 

Definitely! It will definitely take time (and I think more time than many of us are hoping), but I am confident that on-campus events will return once we are all vaccinated. But for now, make sure to follow the rules, wear a mask, stay 6’ apart, and do your part to keep everyone around you safe!