Posted by Christopher Adams on Jun 09, 2021

The Greater Salem NH Rotary Club has been doing "Hybrid" meetings since August 7th. Crazy to think that was 10 months ago. Certainly there was a lot of guidance and guidelines to adhere to, as well as some trial and error. Rather than backtrack and talk about what was, I feel it more pertinent to offer considerations for groups now as they are working their way back.

Location

Our meetings are at the Tuscan Kitchen in Salem, NH. The space is large enough to allow members to have their space and respect distance. It's very important for it to feel like ONE meeting, not just those on Zoom and those in person. Then you really have two meetings and a disjointed group. The room we use has the ability to put Zoom up on multiple TV screens with a HDMI connection and use the TV audio. Members on Zoom can feel seen and interact with each other AND those who are in person. Happy "dollars" (we haven't gotten back to using cash) have a Zoom table when we go around. By tilting the computer, those on Zoom can see around the room to whoever is speaking. We focus on the flag during pledge of allegiance, crowd during meal, and podium during presentation. An unexpected benefit is our speaker ability has really grown. Speakers also have the choice of in-person or Zoom, so we've been able to get folks across the country. They can share their screen if on Zoom, or we share their presentation if in person.   

Control and Comfort

Having the ability to engage in the capacity each individual is comfortable with has been central to our thinking. Zoom has always been available, and there hasn't been a push to get people to come back to in person if they don't want to. This has allowed folks to come back on their own terms, and be in control of their decisions. Conversely, it's good to have the in-person availability for those who wanted it, while adhering to protocols. It seems a couple new faces re-emerge each week in person. Zoom allows the ability to stay home and participate if you aren't feeling well, need to quarantine, are traveling, etc…. You don't have to commit to one or the other.  

Cost

I feel this is extremely important to consider. The experience one has in-person, while eating a meal, is different than one has on Zoom. Our group was very intentional to create an environment that was fair to all participants. By scaling down the meal to just coffee, water, fruit and bagels/muffins, we were able to get to the point where we only had to charge $5 a meeting for all participants. This included the room rental to make Zoom accessible.  It also makes the treasurer's life a lot easier as everyone gets billed. This is still 1/3 of the original meeting cost, so it's fair to everyone. During the meal, Zoom folks are able to interact with each other as though at their own table. What has resonated is that even though a meal is nice, it's not why we get together every week. I'm sure as we go we will expand back to our normal meal.

Dos and Don'ts

Mute all Zoomer's during Speaker Presentation. This could interrupt the meeting. We've all been in a Zoom this year where that has happened.

Mute the host during arrivals and meal. This creates unwanted noise for those on Zoom who can't interact with each other.

Have a backup plan. Technology is always a little funky. We have had to bring in computer speakers, brought extra cables, and even used my phone to get the Zoom going.

Having cadence and a set schedule allows us to focus on things that matter: like comradery, volunteerism and community support. Most of our objectives and plans this year have been met. Hybrid meetings have played a huge role in that, and accelerated where we are headed next. 

For Further Information on Hybrid Meetings

Our District PI & Technology Committee in cooperation with our District Membership Committee has recently published this newly revised Guide to Hybrid Club Meetings 2.0 document. Please check it out and let us know if this is helpful for your clubs.
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