Due to lockdown we had to cancel our March and April Open Meetings, which usually attract about 70 members to hear a guest speaker. We wanted to have some sort of special event for our members in place of an Open Meeting, and one which would encourage them to see the benefits of using Zoom and attract their friends and colleagues.
We sent out a request to all our Conveners to see which groups would be willing to take part in the experiment.
8 Groups offered to give it a try and they came up with some novel ideas on how it could be done.
We had a couple of practice runs with each of the participants, to test out sound quality, best camera positions, timing, lighting, etc.
The ambitious programme included: a poetry reading, a self-scoring Quiz, a piano recital, a resumé of women impressionist artists, a creative writing story, and a 3-hander play-reading from Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Bedroom Farce’.
Our Zumba leader arranged to have some warmup exercises to kick start the show.
Our pianist pre-recorded a piece of Bach which she would introduce live.
Our art convener prepared an attractive PowerPoint presentation.
The quizzer had all the multiple choice questions ready on PowerPoint.
The question was, how many people would we attract?
We upgraded our Zoom account to unrestricted time for up to 100 people.
It would be nice to say that after all the preparations, it all went off smoothly and without a hitch.
That was not to be.
We had issues with the sound quality of the music, screen sharing, muting, and Zoom let us down by timing us out after 40 minutes (twice!) despite us having paid for the upgrade. We also ran beyond our planned time scale as everything took longer than we had expected and so sadly had to drop two of the acts.
Having said that, we reached maximum capacity of 100 viewers plus about 10 people who could not get in. Happily nearly all of the audience stayed with us till the end, despite the frustrations and technical difficulties.
It was good to know that there was a demand for such a presentation and that so many of our members were happy to Zoom in to it.
We had lots of nice notes from members who enjoyed the experience and hopefully will consider participating in future. The presentations which were best received were the Creative Writing story, and the ‘Bedroom Farce’.
We have now started preparing for our next Showcase event “On With the Show!” on the 25 June.
We are avoiding anything musical this time, but have included the acts that we had to drop from the first show, and added a Photography Exhibition.
To avoid any disappointment we have also upgraded our Zoom subscription to accommodate up to 500 people!
We are looking forward to seeing them.