If you want to run the equivalent of “coffee mornings” and “get-togethers” online using Zoom, here are some things we’ve discovered.
Start with low hanging fruit: anyone who is relatively confident / already used Zoom / enthusiastic / willing to try new things. Then, as word spreads, others may be inspired to join.
Beware preconceptions: we found that some of the people we thought wouldn’t possibly be able to download and use Zoom on their own … could. And, of course, vice versa.
When we speak to people, we usually start with “this might not work” and “this might not be for you”.
Look for any existing groups, small communities, friendship groups that you can start with.
Advertising the event(s)
Consider popping leaflets round to people – followed up, of course, by personal contact/invites via phone or carers.
Social media “adverts” – remember that most/many people who see your advertisements, may not be the people who end up at the event – so consider wording it at the former.
We ask attendees at the events if they know of anyone who might like to be invited/get involved.
All people need is internet access.
Once downloaded (see below), Zoom is relatively simple to use.
They don’t need email. All people have to do to join, is start Zoom and type in the meeting ID. It is, of course, easier to send an email invitation that they can simply click on. But, if they don’t already have email (or are not used to using it), it’s probably not worth trying to set them up and/or teach them about it. Email is not straightforward – so many buttons and features that can cause confusion.
No computer or tablet or smart phone? It is possible to join Zoom using a “traditional phone” (as opposed to a smart phone with a screen). They might need more “care” or support on the meeting. If you have a few people with just plain phones, they can be grouped together in a breakout room. However, it’s probably best to get the meetings going, before you invite people with just a traditional phone.
- some people may be able to do it themselves
- or someone who already spends time with them/goes into the house (family member, carer, etc.) can help them or do it for them
- or someone can talk them through it over the phone – this should be someone who
- has experience with the device they are using (computer, iPad, tablet, smart phone)
- has experience of talking people through instructions over the phone
- has patience
- A last option might be to get them with their device on the inside of a closed window, with you on the outside and talk them through it on the phone (a last and not at all ideal option!)
Avoid the following:
- placing them at risk (by going into their house or handling their device yourself) [written at the time of the Corona virus]
- taking their device away or remote controlling it and downloading Zoom for them. Generally, the elderly/vulnerable should not be allowing people they don’t personally know, to do things to their devices. And by offering this you are, in effect, encouraging that behaviour.
On the Zoom meeting
Remember to check that everyone can hear okay.
Informal chatting is fine. But in larger meetings, you might want to encourage people to put their hand up if they want to say something and are having difficulty being heard or interrupting.
Use Breakout Rooms. People’s experience is smaller rooms is easier, more relaxed, easier to hear each other and to be able to speak. We describe breakout rooms like coming to the lunch club. there’s lots of people in the hall, but then they sit on a table with just a few others and chat.
We generally start meetings with everyone together – after a while split into smaller rooms – and finally come together before the end.
We have one “technical support” for each event, and at least one “facilitator” for each Breakout Room.
Things to tell people about Zoom
People don’t need to know anything about Zoom to be able to join in. And, over time, they can get to take more control over Zoom and their experience of it.
But there’s no rush. So, explain things in stages – maybe spread over a few meetings. And, on their first time, let them settle into just chatting for a while, before you start with any of this.
Explain that only one person’s voice will be heard at a time. Like a small pipe (anyone got a simple, better analogy?). So, if two people talk at the same time, the meeting will only hear one – or, worse, bits of one and bits of the other.
Explain about “Speaker view” and “Gallery view” – so they can see more people at once (click here for instructions on different devices)
Explain how to see “even more” people (especially on tablets or smart phones when they need to swipe) (click here for instructions on different devices)
Explain how they can mute themselves – especially if their phone rings, someone comes to the door or their dog starts barking in the same room!
Improving their experience
To support their tablet, iPad or smart phone, they could use:
- a music stand
- a book stand
- pillow and perhaps a mat (to stop it sliding)
- bean bag
If their signal is weak and they keep cutting out, suggest that next time they find a comfortable place to sit that’s near, or in the same room as, their router/internet hub. At a last resort they can turn their video off.
If facilitators turn off their video, their “box/rectangle” will move to the end of people’s Gallery view. So people will see more of their fellow attendees in their screens – especially for those seeing only 9 or 4 people per screen.
We keep a list of people and the devices they use – so if we need to tell them how to do something, we get the right instructions for their device.
More things to do on a Zoom meeting
- having a theme for the meeting
- sharing the screen with old photos