One of the most popular aspects of the Stitch Community are all the member-driven events and activities that usually take place every week around the world.
With the current spread of the coronavirus, it is becoming increasingly difficult to host these events face-to-face.
While it’s imperative we practice physical distancing, it’s equally important that we stay socially connected to our friends and companions during these uncertain times, especially for the sake of our mental wellbeing.
Stitch is working on a range of initiatives to help our members deal with the crisis. Some of these involve improvements to Stitch to help support remote connections between members, including better online discussions and more. You can read some background about what we're working on here.
When creating a virtual or online event, you are welcome to use the the newly released Stitch Video Chat feature. It doesn't require you to download any additional software, so it's an easy and simply way to connect with your fellow Stitchers!
There are also a number of video tools that are freely available for you to connect via video chat with other members, such as Zoom or Skype. If you're familiar with any of these tools, you can use them to set up and schedule your own virtual events on Stitch today. This article is intended to explain how.
Steps to create a virtual or online Stitch Event
This section outlines the steps during the event creation process that are specific to creating virtual Stitch Events.
Stitch will prompt you for details about your event’s date and time, a personal invitation, and to upload an image, as per a normal Stitch Event. Make sure to fill these sections like you would any other Event.
To get started, visit the Activities section within Stitch, then select Create an Activity
1. Set how your event will take place
- Specify that your event is an online one by selecting Virtual
- For all events that are not created for a specific Stitch Group, specify who your event will be open to -- members in your local area, your state or region, your country, or the global Stitch community
Please note, the ability to open your event to a wider audience depends on the membership plan you have chosen, as follows:
- Members on a Community Basic Membership can only create events for their local area
- Community Standard members can create events for their local area as well as their state or region (this feature is currently only available in the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand)
- Community Managers are the only members who can create country-wide events.
2. Set your video conferencing provider
- Select the video conferencing provider of your choice, whether that be Stitch Video Chat, Zoom or Skype. If it's one of the latter two, please make sure you sign up for one of their accounts
- Stitch Video Chat is Stitch's in-built video chat solution that doesn't require attendees to install any additional software. It's super-simple, easy to use, and requires no configuration.
Stitch Video Chat can support up to 50 attendees, but only 12 people will be seen on screen at any one time. It supports features such as live chat and screen sharing, but does not include advanced features for hosting large events. It's a great solution for social get-togethers with smaller groups of other Stitch members, but if you are planning a webinar or large event then we recommend you use one of the supported third-party videoconferencing providers such as Zoom.
3. Include your virtual activity details
- If you have elected to use Zoom or Skype you will be asked to provide a link that will be shared with your event attendees. Paste the link in the field named meeting link. In the below example, the field is asking for your Zoom meeting link
- Make sure to include other instructions or details for your attendees, such as setup instructions or dial-in information
- If you have elected to use Stitch Video Chat you will not be required to provide a link or additional details
Please note, your web link will not be visible to Stitch members, even those that have RSVP'd to your event. It will be hidden behind a 'Join now' button.
(If using Zoom, read the below section called Using Zoom for important information about enabling a passcode and/or waiting room for your meetings.)
4. Set your event title
- There is no need to specify in the event title that this is a virtual or online event. Include a title as you would an in-person event
Once you have submitted your virtual event and it has been approved, it will appear in the Activities section of Stitch like the below, distinguishable by the "Virtual" message at the top of the card.
Please note that while Zoom offers a free account, some setup is required before you can start using it. You may need to download the software to your computer, or app to your phone. In other cases you just need to enable the video camera in your browser window.
Please provide clear instructions to your attendees about what they need to do to in order to get set up with the software you choose to use.
Using Stitch Video Chat
If you have elected to use Stitch Video Chat you are not required to provide or share a video conferencing link with your event attendees.
From your event page, you and your event attendees will simply need to select the blue Join now! button when it is time to connect.
If your event attendees have come to your event page early, they will not be able to select the blue button, as in the example below.
All Zoom meetings must either have a Passcode or Waiting Room enabled. If you have neither, Zoom will automatically enable a waiting room for your call.
The Passcode can either be a passcode that your event attendees manually input before your event, or it can be automatically added to your Personal Meeting link, saving your attendees from having to manually input it. Please visit the Settings section in Zoom to determine which option is right for you.
If you wish your attendees to manually input a passcode, make sure you share your Meeting ID and passcode in Step 3 above.
If you opt to not have a passcode, please make sure you know how the Waiting Room works. Watch this short video by Zoom to discover how best to manage your waiting room.
Learn more here.
Running a successful group video chat
Below is some advice to help you run a successful and enjoyable virtual Stitch Event.
- Make sure to provide full details in your Event Description about how your attendees can access your video link. Your video provider will have all the necessary details that you'll be able to share
- Encourage all attendees to turn on their video cameras. Seeing each other’s faces is far more meaningful than staring at a black screen
- Encourage your attendees to connect to your video chat in a quiet place. Alternatively, ask your attendees to mute their microphone when they are not speaking, especially if they are in a noisy location. Some tools, like Zoom, let the meeting organizer mute the microphones of other attendees.
- Encourage everyone to enjoy themselves. Give them time to grab a hot beverage, to get comfortable, and create a welcoming environment where everyone will feel comfortable to participate in the discussion