Will It Zoom?

Will it Zoom? I’m not sure, but we should give it a go. And, I know you are all sick of Zoom but hear me out. Please.

I really like this insight from my friend Col Fink. And, as you could have guessed, it is in response to the impact of COVID-19. Particularly in the early days of strict physical distancing and isolation.

Now as many countries and states ease restrictions, we’re moving into a new normal. What, in Australia is being termed COVID-normal. The conduct of work, school, and play under conditions intended to limit the spread of COVID-19 throughout the community. And, in the spirit of Col’s quote I think it is worth asking the question – Will it Zoom?

Of course, Zoom is just one of many providers of video calling. There are heaps – from Facetime to WhatsApp to MS Teams, to Google Hangouts to Webex. And we wouldn’t be in the third digital age if there wasn’t also something from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram aimed at this rapidly growing market.

So – Will it Zoom?

As Zoom-fatigued as we all might be, I challenge you to keep asking the question “Will it Zoom?”. Treat it like an experiment. Don’t assume the answer will be “no” or that the experience will be “bad”.

The first time I challenged myself on the topic of “Will it Zoom?” was in the first few days of strict physical isolation. Gatherings in groups for any activity was banned. I was enrolled in a Mindfulness Based Stress Reductioni course. The class was cancelled for one week. I think there was trepidation that it would not work. The next week, it was not really a choice, the class went ahead as a video session (using Zoom). Some people assumed it would be shorter (including me). But it went ahead. It went well. And it went for the full duration. As a participant I can say it was as good as the in-person meetings. Because I did not have to travel to and from the venue, you might even say it was better. The course provider now offers their full range of courses via video, including quarterly silent retreats! Yes, silent! Now, I haven’t attended the silent retreat, but from all reports it is as effective as in-person. AND family members are joining in remotely. Meaning, more people are benefiting.

Q – Will mindfulness meditation Zoom?

A – Yes!

What about other stuff? Like a conference?

I’ve not attended a Zoom conference as yet. But from all accounts they work. Sessions proceed. And they are recorded – so you can see every session, even if two awesome sessions conflict. There are online meeting spaces. There are virtual poster sessions too. The main thing lacking in Zoom conference is the serendipitous corridor conversations. However, there are apps and programs that help make those happen too. I’m not totally sold on the corridor conversation – but for every other aspect of a conference I think video conferencing nails it.

Q – Will conferences Zoom?

A – Yes. But, maybe not corridor conversations.

What about celebrations? I was sceptical a birthday could work on Zoom. But it was so cool. Rather than hanging out in your little clique in the corner, the whole group chatted together. I got to meet friends of friends, and have a large and engaging conversation across a big group of people. We sang happy birthday – but the way sound is managed by the tech it is really hard to sing together. That was an adult party. I’ve also heard of kids parties happening via Zoom, but my kids have not been involved. However, I can say that play dates work (see below).

Can a conference work via Zoom?

Yes! And the sessions are easily

recorded in the cloud.

Q – Will birthdays Zoom?

A – Yes!

One of the hardest things in lockdown was trying to keep the kids connected with their friends. School was mostly via email exchanges and school IT policy says emails can only be used for schoolwork. So, I set up Zoom calls for the kids and their friends. Every week they’d catch-up over Zoom. It was amazing to see the activities evolve and get more sophisticated over time. The meetings started out as straight chats. Then there were regular tours of their respective houses and meeting people, pets, and places of importance. And then they used the various screen writing tools to play games. Of course they shared their screens and did virtual window shopping together. But, most amazing to me, is they started role-playing! “Teachers” at one of the call. “Students” at the other. “failed” connections and “switching” to a different service. Going on virtual excursions. All within various role-playing scenarios.

Q – Will play dates and role-play Zoom?

A – Yes!

Lockdown in Victoria (Australia) happened over Easter. But none-the-less, the magic of Easter Bunny was still there. And even better, my kids and their cousins were able to hunt together! It was so cool to watch them deciphering clues and guiding each other around their respective houses to find the next thing. Working with my parents, and my brother, we set up clues that took the kids within the house and then across to the other houses (virtually of course). The kids are still talking about how fun that was even though we can go and visit each other now.

Q – Will an Easter Egg Hunt Zoom?

A – Yes!

So, before you assume that it won’t work via video, give it a go. At least once. Treat it like a research experiment. Create the hypothesis and test it before making the decision that it just won’t work. As always – good luck and let me know how it goes for you.


Dr Richard Huysmans is the author of Connect the Docs: A Guide to getting industry partners for academics. He specialises in delivering high quality strategic advice to the education, research, and government sectors. He is driven by the challenge of helping researchers be commercially smart, making academic ideas practical; the art of the #pracademic. Richard’s clients appreciate his cut-through approach. He knows the sector and how to turn ideas into reality.

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iSide note – MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) has been proven an effective way to reduce stress. And I can say that it is now a key part of each day and my life in general.