Blake Dowling: Zoom, mullet tosses and keeping your audience engaged

One million Zoom meetings later, we continue to roll through the spring and summer of 2020.

One million Zoom meetings later, we continue to roll through the spring and summer of 2020.

Just like most of you, I have seen virtual board, management and client meetings, training, coffee talks, happy hours, birthday parties, staff meetings, and even an online sermon yesterday (St. John the Evangelist — Oxford, Mississippi).

There are pros and cons to the virtual world. In fact, recent studies on Zoom are fascinating.

Have you ever felt really stressed out after leading or participating on a Zoom call? If your guests do not use their mute button and talking over each other, it can go downhill into Wild West/Mad Max territory pretty quickly.

For more info on Zoom stress, check out this piece.

I sit on one board that has a tiny conference room, so to Zoom with them was awesome. Just having a little bit space made it a win.

On the other hand, there are meetings where you can’t really gauge the mood of the conversation, read body language and things like that, which make the meeting less than effective.

Communication is a clutch, so what are groups using to stay connected with constituents, members, clients, guests, etc.

We have used email blasts, social posts, videos, zoom meetings, teams, podcasts, and our newsletter to keep the lines of communication open.

Hopefully, we are bringing enough diversity to the table regarding our messaging and content that our clients, and partners know where we stand during this time, which is wide-open (just remote).

Moving on, I wanted to check in with some organizations in Florida who conduct business all over the state to see how they are accomplishing their mission.

First, I checked in with Jim Simpson of the Florida Chamber of Commerce:

“When the coronavirus invaded Florida, providing a gut punch to business, our economy and the state as a whole, the Florida Chamber of Commerce immediately pivoted and launched a daily (seven days a week) COVID-19 newsletter as well as a micro-website to provide tools and resources for business.

“In addition to the newsletter, we are keeping in constant contact with our members through surveys and polling, by providing regular webinars, through an online Q&A form on essential activities and services, and through outbound calls and emails to individual businesses.

“During the past few weeks, more than 5,000 businesses have registered for our webinars on topics such as: SBA financing including the CARES Act as well Q&A sessions on PPP and EIDL; the economy and what the road to recovery looks like; reopening Florida in a thoughtful and measured way that puts the safety of Floridians first.”

Do you need another group Zoom pic? Heck, yeah you do! Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend April 2020 Board of Directors Meeting.

Thanks, Jim. In the first week of this crisis, I downloaded the template for Essential Businesses from the Chamber website. It is a great tool for my staff who had to be out and about in case they needed documentation for law enforcement etc.

Get yours here:

Next, I emailed the team at The Florida School Boards Association. Andrea Messina, FSBA Executive Director had the following to say about how they are getting things done:

“As constitutional officers, school boards across the state have had to quickly alter processes to accommodate remote meetings, while guaranteeing public input to ensure community feedback as a part of decision-making during this unprecedented time.

“At the local level and during our association briefings, on platform sessions are taking place utilizing a variety of services such as GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, Zoom and BoardDocs (with its virtual voting features).

“Like everyone else, school board members have had to adjust quickly, be flexible and maintain communication expectations.”

Then, I checked in with Bennett Napier, president and CEO of Partners in Association Management. He offered the following insight:

“Associations are here in good times and bad times. During a crisis, many members rely on associations for timely information, and COVID-19 has been no different.

“The majority of associations are doing regular and frequent webinars using mostly Zoom or GoToMeeting platforms, bringing tailored content related to business recovery.

“Social media is also in high use primarily Facebook with engaging online chat threads related to daily content UPDATEs being posted by associations.

“As an aside, associations are small businesses too. According to a March 2020 COVID-19 Impact Survey published by Association Laboratory Inc., over 80% of respondents to the national survey predict a significant decline in operating revenue in 2020.

“Specifically, for the Florida market, this is concerning, as the data reflects that associations will see a 40% decline in their meetings/events revenue which does not bode well for the remainder of 2020 for Florida hotels, convention centers and other venues.”

The world-famous Flora-Bama Mullet Toss — [fish throwing]. Image via Flora-Bama Management.

Moving to VISIT FLORIDA, the agency has a listing of virtual activities on its website to keep audiences entertained. The list is pretty fantastic.

Ranging from Catty Shack Ranch’s (that name is all about winning) and nighttime Tiger feeding (Tiger King-style), to a livestream of an afternoon at the Flora-Bama lounge (no joke).

Not sure if they do the Mullet Toss online or not — but they absolutely should. And if all that is too “Hank Williams Jr.” for you, how about a night with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra?

Check out all that (and so much more) at

Innovation and creativity are rampant in virtual space. And as we saw with the NFL draft last weekend, anything is possible when it comes to virtual meetings/events.

As we enter the first week of May, our state government has announced the first steps to get things reopened.

These steps are small, so we have to continue to get creative and engage audiences digitally.

To that end, we just wrapped our new podcast with special guest Michael Winn, one of our digital marketing partners. This is our attempt to keep our audience in the loop with all things Aegis.

Please, enjoy it and we will see you out there (on the web) … or perhaps at a Georgia tattoo parlor? Those were opened in Phase One in Georgia. Just what I need, some Flora-Bama ink. Ha.

That would be very Footloose-esque if I crossed the border to get a tattoo.

Never mind, see you Cinco De Mayo, on the patio at El Jalisca, with a margarita in hand. The end.

Podcasting with some Zoom this month.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, host of the Biz & Tech podcast, and a contributor for several publications. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at


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