Introducing: Virtual Meeting Rooms
18 Feb 2021
This week Thorne Harbour is introducing its Virtual Meeting Rooms to help our LGBTI and PLHIV communities stay connected. Volunteer Coordinator Daniel Bryen tells us a little bit about this new resource available to community groups.
Book a Virtual Meeting Room
Thorne Harbour has long supported LGBTI and PLHIV community groups with physical meeting spaces, but what exactly are the new 'Virtual Meeting Rooms'?
"We know that like us, community groups will be looking to use a combination of face-to-face and online events going forward. Community groups are now able to book access to a suite of online platforms that we use and have had experience with at THH. We can help you decide what platform would work best for your proposed event and even offer technical assistance to help run it. It may be as simple as handing over login details or involve more consultation about your event needs. Whether it be a meeting platform that can accommodate larger numbers or an event platform that can host a major event - we can help."
How did the Virtual Meeting Rooms come about?
"We know that most people can’t wait to get back to face-to-face meetings, but like our organisation has found, the online environment certainly has its benefits. It will continue to play a vital role in how we engage and deliver services. For THH the pivot to more online offerings has meant an investment into online license fees and associated training. THH has always shared its physical resources with community groups and this feels like a natural extension of that. It acknowledges that not all community groups can afford paid platforms or business-level licenses to give them the features that they need. It can also be very hard to know what is available and even more complicated to compare."
How do volunteers fit into this initiative?
"Our volunteers are an important part of the equation. As we offered more online, volunteers were deployed into newly created roles to support online initiatives. We also know that many of our volunteers have corporate experience in their professional capacities which they bring to their volunteer roles. They offer that bridge to community groups who may not have the technical experience or know-how within their group or organisation. For many volunteers, seeing our community thrive is the main reason they began volunteering in the first place!"
What digital platforms are a part of the Virtual Meeting Rooms?
"Initially we’re offering two platforms that we think will suit most types of online events. Everyone has heard of Zoom now. Most people have experience either using it or attending a meeting or webinar on Zoom. We can offer both Zoom meetings and Zoom Webinar with business-level licensed features. The other platform is called Run The World Today, which is more of a fun and interactive community building space. It replicates the social interactions you might be used to at a physical party in the online space very well, with great features such as ‘cocktail sessions’ and ‘groupfie’. Both have their advantages and our volunteer team would be happy to talk through the features to see what would work best for your next online event."
After the past year, we’ve spent a lot of time online. While most people are keen for face-to-face experiences in real life, has there been any advantages to the online space?
"I think we can all agree that we’d like to find a balance. One of the immediate things we noticed was how much easier it was to include regional communities. This greatly increased participation and ensured that all voices were heard. Technology does also offer some great solutions, especially in terms of accessibility. We’ve really seen major online platforms respond and smaller start-ups come up with creative solutions. For some community groups, certain events may have been cost prohibitive because of expensive venue, catering and insurance costs. There is also the added benefit of securing speakers from around the world, without having to worry about a travel budget. Online events offers an alternative and one that is becoming more widely accepted."
How do community groups book a Virtual Meeting Room?
"We’d really love to hear from community groups and work with them to decide what platform to use and even offer technical assistance to help run their event. We’ve designed an online form requesting details about your proposed event so we can follow up directly with you.
Book a Virtual Meeting Room