Lessons from a flunked Zoom workshop

  • Have a co-host: Even though I use Zoom all the time, I was distracted by the technology at the beginning. That meant I didn’t get off to the strong start I had planned for. I had enabled the waiting room so every two seconds there was a ping to let someone in. In future, I would either disable the waiting room or have a co-host to let the people in.
  • Manage the chat: When I was sharing my screen I couldn’t see the chat. Or many of the people. There’s no way to do gallery view and see your own slides. So I need to explore that more for next time. It might not be necessary to put the slides in presenter mode for them to be shared.
  • Have a back-up: About half-way through, my Zoom connection dropped out. Fortunately, I had friends on the call who kept it going while I tried and failed to reconnect, dashed across the house to get my laptop and finally reconnected. I missed a good chunk of my own workshop. Having the back-up helped me keep my cool but next time I would plan for it by having a co-host and a fully-charged back-up laptop at the ready with any Zoom updates done. When I reconnected, I couldn’t show my slides (just a black hole) and the recording of the first half wasn’t saved. That’s the worst part of it for me as I always watch the video later to see how I can do better. If I had charged for the event, I would have been embarrassed. As it was, I learned from it and I can share what I learned here.
  • Figure out breakout rooms: I had originally wanted to put people into breakout rooms for some of the exercises but I ran out of time to figure out how to do it. I may not have the right level of Zoom account but it wasn’t obvious so I adapted the format to group sharing instead. This worked well but I would still like the option of breakout rooms.
  • Stagger the feedback: I had prepared the feedback email and survey to go out 10 minutes after the scheduled end of the workshop. But we ended up extending by half an hour, partly because I missed that big chunk in the middle. Another time, I would prepare the feedback email but not schedule it. That way, I could still adapt the email to include, for example, a link to the slides or to a video that I could record of me talking through the slides.

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