Running on-line events take as much effort as physical ones. They may not need catering, but they do demand careful structuring, scripting, preparation of speakers and confident hosting. And they need to be bloody interesting. And that means knowing your audience, and promoting your event appropriately. And then afterwards, everyone needs to be thanked.
Great crowd!Ellen Holmes, Cycling UK
It can be trickier to read the room, but there are ways to manage this -just like at a physical event. Shorter presentations and more time for Q&A lets attendees ‘choose their own adventure’ and guide the conversation – just like a real café. When you’ve taken the time to get clever speakers, it’s great to let them lose. Online you may need to wait a little longer for people to take themselves off mute and ask their question – and they may need to be put at ease by the host asking a few first.
There was lots of interaction at Trek Manchester’s first Zoom Cycle Cafe in May 2020. Lots. Sarah Galligan, founder of These Four Words and Trek Advocate welcomed Beth Barrett, from British Cycling, Ellen Holmes from Cycling UK and Mildred Locke, from Trek Bristol to discuss active travel infrastructure, national and local campaigns and bike maintenance.
Beth talked about British Cycling’s remit – and whilst they are not busy running their normal events during the coronavirus lockdown, they have launched a national campaign, Let’s Ride Local and have initiatives to support key workers and have a Places to Ride funding pot welcoming applications for infrastructure and equipment right now!
Similarly, Ellen Holmes talked about their national campaign to improve cycling infrastructure in the UK as well as their community-focused initiatives supporting key workers who may wish to start cycling – and community groups more widely through their Big Bike Revival campaign.
Ellen also talked about mountain biking in Greater Manchester and beyond – there was a real ripple of interest in the 800 mile Great North Trail.
But what’s the use of a bike if it doesn’t work? Thankfully, Mildred Locke from Trek Bristol was on hand to answer key questions. What can you safely sort yourself? What tools should you invest in? What should you leave to a pro?
Mildred is a volunteer at Bristol Bike Project which is a member-led co-operative repairing and rehoming bicycles, often the kind of bikes you’ve had in your shed for 10 years – got any of those?
It whizzed by!Judi G, road cyclist and attendee
You can probably understand why the event went over-time – people had so many questions for the three speakers, and due to lockdown, no-one had a long-commute home.