This Is Not The Time For Zoom
This is not the time for zoom webinars, that is. This particular time in human history requires zoom ROOMS.
It is a Friday in late December. I have two full day virtual conferences to go to — one filled with progressive professionals gathering to discuss best practices, the other filled with live streaming professionals coming together to discuss upcoming trends in livestreaming.
I head to the progressive conference first. I am excited to see so many of the faces I missed from Netroots and to finally share space with so many people who our team has worked in parallel with these past four years.
I log into the first session…
Webinar. Black screen. Speaker’s face.
This progressive conference lives in a two dimensional world that consists of speakers with powerpoints and an anonymous ocean of silent watchers.
I am visually and viscerally reminded that I am alone.
I stay 10 minutes.
I am visually and viscerally reminded that I am alone. I stay 10 minutes.
Not as structured, not as well managed, but the livestreaming conference featured an open zoom room. There were hundreds of us there — all talking about our solutions to livestreaming in a Covid-19 world across multiple industries. I could focus on the speaker, or listen and scroll through the gallery (much like I might do at an actual conference where my attention might shift from the speaker to the audience.)
I could focus on the speaker, or listen and scroll through the gallery (much like I might do at an actual conference where my attention might shift from the speaker to the audience.)
I stayed for hours. I had great conversations. I made new contacts. I left on a high. I had connected to a whole new group of people, we had a great time together and got to feel like I was part of a community.
Aren’t these all the things you want to foster at any event, virtual or otherwise, whether it’s a conference, a fundraiser or a town hall?
One more critical point in favor of Rooms over Webinars. Emotions are contagious. Literally. A zoom room full of excited, engaged community members exponentially creates more excited, engaged community members.
We produce zoom events for our clients all the time , and we always recommend the use rooms rather than webinars, but recently I got to see another company use a zoom room to great effect.
For Christmas I bought my husband a Point Reye’s Cheese zoom tasting — a covid attempt at “getting out of the house for the night”. When the night came for the tasting I set up our cheese plate and I opened zoom, expecting to find the usual sad, lonely zoom webinar.
Instead I was greeted by a gallery full of excited cheese lovers from all over the United States. The excitement and happiness was in fact, contagious. My husband and I laughed and hugged. We waved at the other cheese lovers. We all showed off our cheese plates, and chatted to one another in the chat room while our very enthusiastic hosts lead the cheese tasting.
One hour later we all waved good-bye to each other on a high — not only had we tasted wonderful cheese (oh that Bay Blue, and Gouda and…) but we got to spend an hour with dozens of happy people from all around the US, all celebrating the holidays, and cheese, and, yes, togetherness, even in the midst of an isolated epidemic.
…we got to spend an hour with dozens of happy people from all around the US, all celebrating the holidays, and cheese, and, yes, togetherness, even in the midst of an isolated epidemic.
Hats off to Point Reyes for understanding that community, connection and energy are critical to any event, especially a virtual one.
SO…TLDR — Webinars are black holes of alienation. Zoom rooms are light filled spaces filled with connection, community, energy and focus. Always choose a zoom ROOM.