A thing what I made

A few weeks ago I was getting a touch nervous about how to chair my running club’s first ever Virtual AGM.

I was casting around for ideas and inspiration when I read this fortuitous tweet by my friend shardcore, who had found himself in a similar(ish) position giving a first ever virtual talk. He then posted a follow-up that put me on to this superb ‘tiny talk’ by Marcus John Henry Brown on Virtual Keynotes.

Now I don’t really consider myself to be a creative person, but the ‘tiny talk’ triggered a few ideas and just enough up-front confidence to think I could manage something, so I roughed out a rough ‘screenplay’, which miraculously didn’t get shot down by the people I discretely talked to about the idea.

I was set too on rounding it off with a ‘highlights reel’ to try and capture some of abundant positivity the club had developed during the lockdown to support each other – and me. There were lots of great contributions that I wanted to reflect, and in a way that felt a bit special.

So I set about recording a rough-cut, then a second ‘proper’ version, as well as a handful of video inserts plus the featured interview.

It took far longer than I’d anticipated, not least it turns out I’m absolutely terrible at remembering lines, and even when I remember them, speaking them CLEARLY. It’s much, much harder than Marcus John Henry Brown makes it look in his excellent youtube videos. I have a new found respect for every. actor. ever.

I also discovered just much time you can spend editing: That tantalising quest for the ‘perfect’ version that is surely, surely, just around the corner.

All difficult and time consuming, for sure, but I’m pleased – if still a touch nervous – with the result.

Whilst Chairing the AGM in which it featured, I confess I spent most of time my video was playing (all the sections so very familiar to me) with my head in my hands, nervously glancing at the 2nd laptop, showing the gallery of attendees’ delayed reactions to what was playing on my computer.

Were they staring in horror, or were they enjoying it? Oh good grief, was it buffering?, was it blocky, did that joke actually work, did it skip a bit, or – dare I imagine it – was it actually ok?

It was, it seems, actually ok. Some lovely words and comments received.

I suppose at this point I should let you judge for yourself:

A few technical notes: We used Zoom for the main meeting, streaming it over to Youtube (a full livestream of the AGM is available if you’re really, really curious). I used my iMac (recently with an external SSD to make it usable again) and iMovie to edit (and edit, and edit, and edit) the videos. I’ve a Blue Snowball Ice for sound.

The lack of feedback during the ‘broadcast’ was the hardest part. I’m definitely with shardcore here. No eye contact from the audience (or deliberate avoidance of such!) to indicate how well/terribly something was received. No chuckles, or even awkward silences to give you a steer.

This was just as true for the role of Chair too. 90 minutes in total, trying to move it through the agenda to keep it punchy, reflect comments, and give answers. Trying (entirely unsuccessfully) not to ummm. Oh good grief, do I ummm a lot.

A co-host – in our case fellow Trustee Emer – was invaluable to manage the meeting. With 60 or so attendees, too much going on otherwise (in my own head, and in the meeting). Plus I’d somehow lost the gallery view of attendees on my desktop, so was utterly terrified of destroying the call, if I pressed the wrong button.

As a digression, I believe strongly in open Governance: I think it’s important to see how decisions are made by organisations. To allow its membership to feel involved, and to lower the barriers to their engagement with it.

Governance really doesn’t have to be boring and monochrome. It can be engaging, enjoyable, informative, colourful and fun too.

I hope some of that comes through. You can find a summary of the AGM outcomes on the club news page.

I hope it all serves to make the club – a charity after all – stronger as a result, and I’m certain we’ll be using more virtual elements in future.

I’ve learnt a lot too. Plenty of technical elements, skills and tools, but unexpectedly about myself. Focusing on what I wanted to communicate, and how, but also on what mattered most to me.

All said, a fun and valuable experience. It’s perhaps helped draw a line under a strange few months, and I helped garner a bit more confidence about being a bit more when giving talking in public.

FWIW here’s the musical montage I put together separately. That track is going to resonate with me for a long while:

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