Hybrid meetings

The past couple of years have changed normality – not always for the best – and it’s time to consider how to move forward.  In our u3a, we have held meetings using Zoom, and this has enabled many members to keep in touch with one another.  Not everyone has opted to use Zoom, although as we inch forward to the freedom to meet without restrictions, there will still be members (and potential members) feeling unsure about the risks involved in attending meetings in person.

We have, therefore, applied for some funding from SASP (Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership) to enable us to support hybrid meetings: that is, meetings which are a combination of live and digital attendance.  Hybrid meetings are taking place throughout the national u3a and are not particularly special.  However, they do mean that members who are unable to attend a meeting in person – whether from reluctance, mobility problems, transport issues, or any other personal reason – can still attend meetings remotely and enjoy the benefits of their membership.

The complexity of a hybrid meeting varies according to the scale of the activity.  For example, involving one remote member in a meeting with five attending in person is quite straightforward; dealing with a coffee morning presents more challenges.  We are currently working on a technical response to these challenges, aiming initially to offer a robust solution to group meetings – without requiring a doctorate in handling the technology!

The hybrid kit has now been purchased and is in operation – here being used at a Committee meeting, where two members were not able to attend:

This kit is very appropriate for groups of up to 15-20 members present. We now face other challenges for large scale meetings, such as coffee mornings. In these cases, we have to ensure that we can understand the venue’s facilities, infrastructure, and technology choices – and these vary from venue to venue.  We have now got on top of the requirements for the Baptist Church (Minehead), and will be putting that into practice.

Please note that the Committee is asking all participants – both on Zoom and in person – to follow a new set of advisory rules for the meetings. These mainly concern comments and questions to the presenter.  Please read the ‘rules’ here.

If anyone has questions, and particularly if members want to attend a group meeting and find themselves unable to (don’t wait for your convenor!), please contact webadmin@minehead-district-U3A.org.uk.