“Is This thing on?” Some Thoughts About Zoom Events “Can you hear me?”

Photo by Zoltan Tasi from Unsplash

As a born traveller you might think I. feel caged in by the pandemic. Far from it. I am zooming like a bad boy and if there is one thing I have learned from  lense-life  it’s that  I need to get my teeth done.  But that’s another matter – ANOTHER MATTER – altogether.  Moving on.

BBC Q/A Photo by Tim andAngela

I have favourite zoom  events over the past few months like the My name Is Why  for  Brighton Festival or the ‘head to head’. with Christopher Eccleston for The  Bradford International Literature Festival

The 50th anniversary speech for The British Association of Social Workers. I have been busy.

But  let’s talk about recording. It shouldn’t be assumed that a  zoom event will be uploaded. It should be previously agreed with a limited time period online.  It is a live gig not content filler.

Photo by Spike from Twitter


Secondly,  a ‘run through’ should happen on the day of the broadcast.  And it needs to be made clear to the artist what he or she will see on their screen.  There needs to be the Digital  stage manager and front of house.  Clear lines of communication.   And please, organisers,  place your names, not your children’s name, in your zoom window.


And.  please provide a breakout space for the artist and organisers should they want to hang out after the event.  I am sick of the  invisible tech person clicking end meeting  leaving me alone  in my apartment after bearing my soul to hundreds of people.

Paul Blezzard and me at Emirates Literature festival.

Finally, moderators  and performers NEVER… NEVER… say  to an audience “Can you hear me”   it ages you by fifty years “Is this thing on”. It is the equivalent to speaking to your telephone app while tapping “contacts! Open”.

Photo from Sam Albury at Unsplash

Do you a have any thoughts on how to improve zoom events ?  What irritates you about them?   What gets you angry about them?  Whether you are an audience member or performer or producer I would really like to know.

Photo by Hollie Fernando for The Observer

10 thoughts on ““Is This thing on?” Some Thoughts About Zoom Events “Can you hear me?”

  1. Lighting is very important so that your features are clear.
    Also a stable internet connection, also if interacting with others get them to virtually ‘raise their hands’ if they want to speak (in participants) to save all the talking over each other.
    Thank you Lemn for a lovely blog and hoping the smoke free life is suiting, it’s the best gift you can ever give to your body x

  2. That all rings so many bells about zoom in time of corona for me, Lemn, as participant and audience member at online events over the last few months. We’ll said. And the teeth bit really struck a sore chord from someone that didn’t realise her own were like a nicotine fluorescent graveyard till the end of March. Loved the ‘imagine’ programme. Hope you are keeping clear of ghastly puds with pears and walnuts. Strength and affection, Laura

  3. Generally speaking, the interviewer shouldn’t have too much to say. Listened to one where he was far too intrusive – should be there to present and enable the speaker, not to be the main event. Listened to one with two excellent speakers – Philippe Sands and Ellie Shafak – and the interviewer got it just right. It was brilliant. As was your SOA one.

  4. Your zoom gigs were one of the best things of the lockdown. I have been there as many times as I could. And thank you for using one of my tweets. I could definitely hear you!

  5. Loved loved loved your Brighton festival zooming and hated seeing you left with no one to decompress with at the end Lemn.. the point you make about that really resonates.
    Thanks for the words & for giving up smoking, Sez

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