Empowering young female leaders through powerful digital experiences
In 2020, almost everything has been virtual. From online workshops to Zoom birthday parties, around the world, social interactions of all kinds have had to migrate en masse to the digital realm.
Whilst this has enabled us to continue with our work and lives during the pandemic and has even transformed our understanding of engagement, it has nonetheless meant that our once diverse range of daily interactions have all been flattened onto the same small screen.
For The Girls Leadership Network, a non-profit, Australia-based initiative designed to empower high school aged girls to dream, believe and achieve and reach their potential, this meant designing a virtual engagement that stands out amongst a day of zoom calls. Their core program includes a number of interactive forums to develop leadership skills and meet a group of like-minded individuals, opening doors for exciting networking opportunities and to develop skills and experiences for their career.
How can you create a digital experience for these motivated high school girls that is invigorating, unique, and impactful?
In this first week of September, The Girls Leadership Network held their fifth and final event for 2020. This is the second year that ThinkPlace has sponsored TGLN, providing both the content and the venue for the program.
Of course, this year things had to run a little differently.
Normally we would hold the sessions face-to-face in our Canberra studio, but as the pandemic began to unfold, we realised this was unfeasible. We realised we were facing the possibility of having to delay – or outright cancel – the TGLN program for 2020. But in such a turbulent year of unprecedented challenges, we felt that it was more important than ever to help equip the TGLN team with the tools they need to be resilient, strong leaders through this time of uncertainty.
So, we pivoted to take TGLN 2020 online using our virtual engagement capability: Airlabs. From the start, we were cognisant that we needed to be innovative about how we did this. Most of our participants would be joining us after a full day of online lessons. We knew we needed to deliver relevant, engaging and purpose-driven content in a way that would be stimulating enough to fight the Zoom fatigue our participants might be experiencing.
ThinkPlace worked closely with the TGLN leadership team to develop a series of monthly virtual events that included meaningful and appropriate content and opportunities for participants to interact and meet likeminded, similar-aged individuals.
We adapted the scope of the program to not only cover a diverse range of leadership topics specifically designed for young female-identifying leaders, but also to address the important issues and changes arising for young people due to the pandemic. Some of these topics included managing motivation and goal setting using gamification, and methods for building emotional and mental resilience. Other topics included helping participants to understand their leadership styles; growing strong networks and leveraging them; and the tools you need to effect real impact.
Each event was designed to be a mix of collaborative online activities and inspiring and informative guest speaker presentations. This format meant that our participants experienced a healthy balance of active participation and active listening, ensuring no one would feel burnt out or disengaged. Our guest speakers brought fresh energy and novel insights to the program, and grounded the sessions in the ‘real world’ of leadership.
After running four sessions remotely, we had the opportunity to run the final session as a hybrid of in-person and online participation due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the ACT. It was a seamless transition, and a privilege to be able to experience the benefits of both formats.
TGLN 2020 received raving feedback from the participants. With a bit of creativity, we were able to deliver online engagements that offered benefits beyond those that could be achieved in person. Our young female-identifying leaders came away feeling motivated, and have a keen interest in taking the program to new and bigger heights in 2021.
The Girls Leadership Network has been honoured with a prestigious Hän Award from the Government of Finland for their work advancing inclusivity and equality in society. To read more about TGLN and the work that they do, visit their website.