Geopolitics

Tips for zoom parties

I had a Zoom party with a couple dozen friends and it was lovely. The key was getting breakout rooms set up properly: it’s difficult to have a good zoom conversation with more than 4 to 6 people at a time.

How did it compare to a personal party? Worse, of course – and better.

Conversations over video are still not as smooth as in person. Talking about people online is more of a problem than in person. You can’t hug. It is more difficult to steer what you are saying to a particular person just by gesture and gaze. You are less likely to spot an old friend in the room.

On the other hand, I got to meet friends from the city and from outside. A law school classmate came over from Singapore. Some of the friends were people I haven’t seen in many years. And I think many also enjoyed seeing old friends we had together and meeting new people too.

When people had children, they didn’t have to worry about finding a babysitter. When people were drinking (some were, some weren’t) they didn’t have to worry about the return trip. If people only had half an hour, they could easily stop by that long.

The secret to a good party is, of course, to have good guests, and you are more likely to have lots of good guests once you are no longer constrained by distance and other factors. Make sure you don’t limit your guest list to the usual crowd in town.

Also, do you remember all those parties where you really didn’t know anyone and it was boring and uncomfortable and you felt like you were wasting an hour there and an hour back? Don’t worry here! I can’t guarantee that all of my guests had a great time, but neither did anyone have to waste a lot of time.

And for me? No need to straighten the house. No cleanup. No need to buy food and drinks. I always enjoy having people with me and luckily I can afford it, but for others the cost could be an obstacle – nothing like that at Zoom (assuming you have access to a suitable Zoom account).

As with so much else, the new technology takes advantage of its vices and vice versa. But overall I was very happy with it. Not too late to plan a New Years Eve party folks!

Some tips:

1. As the host, click Breakout Rooms in the lower center of the screen and set up the breakout rooms with the “Have Participant Select Room” button selected. Then click “Open All Rooms” to open the rooms. (You can rename any room to something current or frivolous first by moving the cursor over the appropriate line and clicking “Rename”.)

2. If you think you are the host but don’t see the Breakout Rooms icon in the ribbon at the bottom (see below), it is probably because you are not logged in as the host: go to Participant (also) in the Near the bottom center of the screen) and select Claim Host in the lower right corner, which you will likely need to sign up for. Once you’ve done this and your login is configured as a meeting host, you will have access to the Breakout Rooms setup.

3. Once people join, they can see who is in which room by clicking Breakout Rooms (again in the lower center of the screen) and clicking “Join” to join the room they have selected. Later they can do the same thing to join another room.

4. If people are complaining that they can’t see the Breakout Rooms options on the bottom ribbon, it is likely because they are on an old version of the Zoom app. You should install the latest version (I’m not sure which version is the minimum required for this). You can also stay in the main room or you can manually move them to a room (using your host’s breakout room dashboard where you can select a person and then click “Assign To”).

5. Anyone in a breakout room who wants to return to the main room can simply click on the white and blue “Leave Room” in the lower right corner.

6. If people come in with strange names (e.g. using a family member’s account), go to Attendees (again near the bottom center of the screen), go to the person’s name, and click “More>” from Click Click on the name and its name on Rename and enter the new name.

7. When people join in, they show up in the main room first; This is a nice place for the host to introduce each other – or to refer people who don’t know anyone to a room where someone likes to meet (e.g. because of a professional or professional similarity).

I hope it works for you and I hope you have as much fun as I do.

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