Positionality: Creating a positionality statement is a valuable process that acknowledges the diversity of perspectives, experiences, and cultures that can make up any group. It also acknowledges the greater community that your organization exists within. You can read KSA’s statement here. It was created over time, and in partnership with many of our stakeholders.
From Our Expert: Shequita Thompson-Reid, is an expert on guiding organizations through a process to create such statements. See her Powerpoint regarding the process here.
Group Norms: When you are establishing an online group, start by co-creating a set of group norms. This will be as unique as the group itself, but some things to consider are the length of meetings, camera and microphone norms, breaks, how to indicate who speaks next, how and when to use the chat function, and creating a visual cue for when you can’t hear the speaker due to poor connectivity. Read more here.
Making Decisions So We Can Gather
Platforms: Digital platforms can be a space for meeting, facilitating, team building, workshopping, mentoring, learning, performing and connecting. There are multiple online platforms that offer similar features with both subtle and glaring differences. You may need to look at up-to-date reviews and profiles of each platform to determine which ones will be most effective and accessible for you to connect with your stakeholders. These platforms are continually evolving to meet user needs and a variety of contexts.
Questions to ask when choosing a meeting platform
- Is there a free option, and what are its limitations?
- Are all of the features accessible on all devices and operating systems?
- Is it secure (end-to-end encryption, easily hackable, etc.)?
- How many people can be hosted at once and for how long?
- Is there a phone-in option for those without internet access?
- Can sessions be recorded?
- Can you share/present your screen easily?
- Are the audio options favourable for live performance?
- Are subtitles available? Are they free?
- Can you share files in the chat? What size files will it accommodate?
- Does it have breakout rooms? Are they easy to manage?
- Does it have VR (virtual reality) options or require VR hardware?
Check out this community songwriting project that took place over Zoom, led by KASHKA and presented by The Department of Illumination:
Some current digital options for meeting and gathering
For a further breakdown of some of these options, check out this video by Digital Education Expert John Scully:
Resources for Performance and Live Streaming
Online performing, instructing, speaker panels and conferences have become increasingly popular, lucrative, accessible and, in some cases, a viable alternative to an experience in a physical space. Connecting in digital spaces with your audience of fans, learners, enthusiasts or supporters can be a great way to stay connected when geographic or other barriers to access exist. The growing number of online platforms and resources that allow you to livestream your offering can be challenging to navigate. Knowing what kind of experience you wish to create will guide your decision-making process. Regardless of which streaming platform you choose, ensure that you have the right space and the devices to capture your sound and visuals to maximize the audience experience.
Questions to ask when choosing a streaming platform
- Is the platform free?
- Is this where your audience is most likely to be already?
- Is this a private event?
- Do you want to sell tickets?
- Would you like to collect donations during or after the event?
- What kind of experience are you creating? An intimate house concert? A networking conference? An interactive, participatory exchange?
- Do sessions have a time limit or maximum audience capacity?
- What kind of a team do you need to support the experience? An emcee? A chat moderator? Visual/audio/tech support? Sign language interpreters?
- Do you need the option to run a second camera?
Popular digital platforms that allow you to livestream
Resources that will support your decision-making process and capacity to maximize your offering
The Complete Guide to Livestreaming for Musicians poses questions that are relevant to more than just music artists. It is for anyone considering a livestream: dancers, drag performers, art instructors, collectives hosting a speaking panel, etc.
Tips for a Music Performance in Zoom by the Toronto Songwriters’ Association will help you maximize your audio settings.
On-line Streaming Audio Video Tutorial by musician Peter Katz.
The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker is a wonderful book; check out her free Virtual Gathering Guide.
Rev.com offers relatively inexpensive transcription, caption and translated subtitle services.
TSLIS Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Service.
Facilitation and Design Tools
When gathering in digital space, you may find that people’s capacity for talking and listening diminishes as the session progresses. This fatigue and disengagement is compounded by being on video and looking at a screen. The key to holding critical and healthy engagement may lie in balancing verbal discussions with alternative means to communicate. Digital facilitation resources can allow participants in online sessions to share ideas, experiences and feelings with a combination of images, text and graphics. It can be effective for a facilitator to share their screen or for everyone to have access to a live document that is co-created. In some cases, the opportunity to contribute anonymously may promote critical feedback and more honest discussion. Some of these tools can generate working documents where brainstorms, conversations, planning, assigned projects and designs can evolve outside of or in between online meetings.
Questions to ask when choosing a digital facilitation tool
- Is the tool free? Does it offer free trials? Educators and non-profits can often access free accounts with all of the features.
- Do your participants need an account to access the tool?
- How does this facilitation tool work on different devices? Consider doing a test on multiple devices: cellphones (Android and iOS), tablets and computers (PC and MAC), to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each; survey your participants to see what devices they use.
- What skills or comfort level might your participants need in order to maximize their engagement with the tool?