Many of us have been using Zoom for any number of meetings, whether with friends,family, work, or church. But Church is about to go hardcore Zoom.
Tonight I attended our Stake training for the new Zoom accounts, which it appears the Church has purchased for all units, worldwide. As a non-profit and with bulk-buy discounts, this will be much less expensive than having each unit purchase several licenses to support their various activities.
Part of the reason the Church probably gets a significant discount is that recording is disabled for these Church accounts. So no need for lots of cloud storage and the associated costs.
A benefit of the new accounts is that they make more effective use of breakout rooms. The cool part of this is that you can just dial in to “Church,” then peel off to the particular “room” associated with your class. For instance, this allows a ward where families have enough devices to schedule Elders Quorum, Relief Society, Primary, and multiple Young Men and Young Women classes simultaneously, with only one tech-savvy host required to help stragglers transition from the “hall” to their appropriate room.
That is super cool.
Another benefit is that anyone who is attempting to disrupt these Zoom meetings can be blocked. So all may attend, but bad actors can be evicted.
In our stake, we also got training on how to make the most of the experience. Aside from instruction on Zoom itself, someone who uses video-conferencing extensively for international business shared the following tips:
- Position your camera so it is capturing you in landscape view, with the camera on top (if not a phone or tablet). This presents a larger image so people can see you better.
- As much as possible, position your device/camera so your chin is in the middle of the image, with the top of your head near the top of the frame. Also try to get the device camera positioned so you are looking straight at the device, rather than up at the device or down at the device.
- Find a nice background that isn’t too distracting.
- If It’s hard to be in front of a nice background, you can turn on “green screen” mode and upload a picture of a nice spot in your house when it was tidy, say the decorated wall of your living room or a nicely-arranged bookshelf. The green screen only has to be right behind you, and doesn’t even need to be green. If you have a high-back chair, you can drape a bright t-shirt inside out on the chair behind your head and shoulders. Or you can do what I’ve done and make a PVC screen for behind yourself, stretching the bright t-shirt or a solid-color sheet/blanket/cloth over that.
- Light yourself from the front rather than behind. For example, sit so the room light is shining on your face, rather than shining on the back of your head.
- Look into the camera (or at the images of others right under the camera) and pay attention to others on the call.
Is this daunting? This is a great chance to reach out to one of the younger people in your congregation to get some help!
Though many of us hope to “get back to normal” and resume in-person meetings, this new Zoom paradigm can be powerful for locations where Church members are scattered across vast distances or growth has outstripped the ability to find space for pre-2020 in-person worship services (as I blogged about for the singles wards in Northern Virginia).