What works / what doesn't?
We have had several online meetings now so are starting to get a feel for what works and what doesn't.
Online, some things are different to a ‘face to face’ Rostrum Club.
For example, applause doesn’t work, there is only limited benefit from body language & you need to rely more on voices (pace and modulation). You also have to look at the camera while speaking (not the screen), & you generally can’t see your audience so you don’t get visual feedback.
And then, there’s the technology. The video-conferencing services we have tried are certainly good, but they can’t perform miracles when the internet is over-burdened. We are currently using the Zoom platform which seems to cope well with few delays or dropouts.
We have experimented with how much audio and video we should permit from non-speakers. As you might expect, transmission becomes more likely to break up when you have many parcipants streaming their webcams; as a rule we generally turn our webcams off unless we are speaking.
Being the moderator (equivalent to a chairing a traditional meeting) brings with it extra responsibilies. Firstly you need to ensure the correct parcipants can speak or present from their computer screens at the right time.Then there's the issue of timing - we are still experimenting with timers and how best to let speakers know when they have a minute to go / their time's up.
Most online meeting platforms also have an inbuilt Instant Messaging function – they're useful, but we need to sort when and how it should be used, and sometimes people don't notice they've been sent a message.
And, of course, people somemes drop out or lose audio for unexplained reasons (fortunately this has been uncommon).
Where are we now?
Some meetings have been better than others, but we have maintained our enthusiasm and are continuing to learn.
As well as allowing members to develop a skill that will likely prove valuable in future, an online club will allow members of Rostrum who have re-located and no longer live near a club to continue within Rostrum wherever they are in the world.
We are all busy, but this is a great opportunity to target attendance at on-line meengs over next six months and develop the capability to understand the video-conferencing technology.