Stacey virtual event speaker

To Zoom or Not to Zoom?

I went to my first in person meeting last week.

Wow did that stress me out remembering that I had to get showered and dressed. Almost ran late!

Once I got there, a group of us sat indoors in an airy room with high ceilings, long tables, bench seats, spaced apart, masks up. Coats on (and one woman brought a blanket!) because it was a cool windy day and the big sliding doors were open. You know, for ventilation.

The great part? This took place on a hill overlooking a farm, and watching the cows graze and the flowers blow in the wind truly was stunning.

Online or in person?

Between the wind blowing, trying to keep warm, attempting to hear everyone speak through their masks, especially when they weren’t looking in my direction, my ability to pay attention waned as the time passed.

Leaving the meeting I thought:

This meeting could have been on Zoom.

  • Could have saved travel time
  • Would have been warm
  • Hearing people, without masks, would have been so much easier.

Intention Matters

Having worked with clients over the years, and run my own meetings, I developed the belief that if you intend to bring people together in person, make it worth their while. If the information you share can easily be shared in an email, then send an email and don’t waste everyone’s time.

In addition, friends and colleagues have told me, “I love not having to drive anywhere!”

This all begs the question To Zoom or Not to Zoom?

Based on my experiences over the last year Zoom works well for:

  • Moderated Panels. Panels are typically inspirational and informational in nature, with Q & A the only interaction. A skilled facilitator will incorporate breakout rooms or some other interaction.
  • Networking Events. I’ve had great success with 1 hour online networking. Especially when they are fast moving, use breakout rooms and forgo the individuals introductions/elevator speeches.
  • Small Group Workshops. 6 to 8 people max (6 is better) works well for a 3 or 4 hour intensive that includes breakout rooms, full group interaction and more.

Personally, I have NOT enjoyed talking at people for 30 minutes or an hour without interaction and everyone having their video off. And I see no reason to gather people in person for what amounts to basic information sharing.

Lots of people think gathering in person = connection. But it doesn’t equal connection when all you do is talk at people.

This holds true online and in person. So #shedtheformality and STOP doing it. (Not sure how? Let’s talk. I have some ideas.)

Bottom line?

Moving forward my decisions about meetings and events will be more discerning. Not because I don’t like people. I do enjoy the company and energy of others. But because not every meeting is deserving of the time and effort it takes to meet in person.

How about you?

  • Have you started meeting in person?
  • Thumbs up or thumbs down?
  • Do you like driving a lot and miss it?

Leave a comment, I’d love to know!

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About the blog

Insights & inspiration to make human interactions like speaking, networking, facilitating less awkward & boring and more natural & engaging.

Topics include presence, getting your message across, relationship buildingstaying poised under pressure, running a meeting, dealing with burnout and more.

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Discussion

3 Comments

  1. Lisa Walker on May 14, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks Stacey for a well-written consideration of meeting in person versus Zoom!

    I’m so happy to read this as I have embraced teaching art to kids teens and adults online. Our business has doubled this year because people are looking for new and novel experiences online. We’re unsure what will happen next year after the restrictions of Covid ease. I do miss teaching in person, but teaching on Zoom has many advantages. Our class sizes are small and the students that attend want to be there which makes a difference versus teaching kids that are attending school everyday.

    I do not miss driving to the location to teach. Nor do I miss setting up and cleaning up. A big plus for teaching art is that everyone can see my hands when I spotlight them in the Zoom meeting. When we teach needle felting to teens and adults we’ve noticed that people are less likely to stab their fingers with the needle because they’re not distracted by the person next to them 🙂 My hope, going forward is that our business teaches a mix of in person and online art classes.

    • Stacey Shipman on May 14, 2021 at 2:47 pm

      Lisa! Thank YOU for a well thought out comment. You express my sentiments and those of so many people I talk to. We want both and don’t want to be confined to one. I for one, do NOT like speaking (formal speaking, no interaction) on Zoom to large groups. Too anonymous. But using breakout rooms and smaller groups works really well. I don’t mind the panels because you’re still talking amongst a small group! But larger conferences, etc I will not attend online. Mostly because people talk at you. No involvement.

      Your business is so perfect for a hybrid model! And I’m glad it worked in your favor. It will be interesting to see how things unfold as we go. I am planning a small, local outdoor networking event for Summer. We’ll see how it goes! And I will keep hosting online. The reach and not having to drive (traffic, early mornings, evenings, etc) is the BEST! Thanks for sharing!

  2. […] this week I thought it would be fun to follow up on the last newsletter – To Zoom or Not to Zoom? (Click that link if you missed […]

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