Category: Club Volunteers Best Practices

Title:Dos and Don’ts of a Virtual Happy Hour

virtual happy hour zoom thumbnail
By now we’ve all experienced the stir-craziness that social distancing can create. Just because you’re safely practicing socially distancing doesn’t mean you can’t connect with others. Many of us have also now experienced the tangible discomfort of joining a virtual call without any direction.

Good news! We have some great guidance on how to avoid those awkward moments and create a virtual happy hour that leaves everyone more connected to their Georgetown family from at least six feet away.

Before we jump into the Dos and Don’ts, if you’re wondering how you even access your club’s Zoom account, check out this how-to video(link is external) for logging in and creating your first meeting. Now to the content you’re really here for:


1. Put the “happy” back in happy hour

I think we can all agree that the daily quaran-routine of waking up, joining a bunch of virtual meetings, sending dozens of emails, cooking pasta or other shelf stable food you panic-bought, streaming Love is Blind, and doing it all over again is getting a bit tired. Connecting with others should be a fun highlight of the day, and there’s nothing wrong with a hokey theme, as long as it is still social distancing-approved!

Some ideas you can try include virtual bingo(link is external), a Hoya spirit hour, a cocktail of the week, or even a virtual movie night(link is external).

2. Everybody gets a turn!

Virtual Happy Hours are meant to be an interactive connection. People want to share and talk with others, but it’s also impossible to understand when two or more people are trying to talk on the same call.

Make it clear when and how people will be invited to participate and have someone facilitate who will be speaking. Some facilitation tactics include having someone “MC” and lead introductions, creating breakout rooms for more open discussion with smaller groups, and having individuals “raise their hand” through Zoom or physically before they share.. So long as people are confident in what is happening and when they will get a turn to talk, everyone will be invested in avoiding a “too many people talking at once” scenario.

Have a plan before your call starts for when those participation moments will be possible, and then be flexible. You never know what the call will be like until you’re on the virtual line!

3. Break it out, break it in (and maybe break it out again)

Breakout rooms are one of the most useful Zoom tools for virtual meetings. They allow smaller groups of individuals to connect. You can assign people to them randomly or you can choose who goes where. For any meeting, you can create up to 50 breakout rooms. It’s important to have a strategy for how you will divide attendees into breakout rooms, or be prepared to let Zoom automatically decide.  Either way, make sure that there is a purpose to a breakout room, regardless of who is in it.

If you will have more than six people in a breakout room, it could be helpful to appoint a facilitator for each room. They can make sure that everyone gets the opportunity to chat and feel connection during these breakouts. Ideally, facilitators can guide the conversation or help draw connections between people.

If you’re curious about breakout rooms, but aren’t sure exactly how they work, you can watch Zoom’s detailed training videos(link is external). We also recommend that you practice using breakout rooms with a peer or a colleague before you lead your first virtual happy hour. That way, you can be confident in the software before you go live!


1. Forget who your audience is

When you’re connecting a group virtually it is critical to think about the audience for the call, and the common thread that brings this group together. That thread is the key to giving even a social event like a virtual happy hour a clear purpose. It provides discussion topics for engagement. Just make sure that your intentional audience for these events is the focus, rather than trying to maximize the number of people.

2. Try to do it all

If you do a Zoom Happy Hour well, it will seem easy peasy, like there’s no work involved at all. But let me tell you—it takes work to do it well! Have your board own various pieces of the happy hour like making a fun activity for people to play. Have someone else MC introductions so you can create breakout room assignments. And of course, we still want attendance even for virtual events, so have someone write down everyone’s names.

We hope that you all have the confidence to host your own Zoom Happy Hour. These tips will ensure that you and your guests have the best possible experience connecting with fellow Hoyas from the comfort of their homes. Stay safe and well! We wish you all the best.

Georgetown University continues to monitor and respond to the COVID-19 situation. For campus updates and more information, please refer to: is external).