In the last few years, I’ve had so many requests to speak at garden club meetings, master gardener classes, book groups, conferences, botanical gardens, bookstores, and libraries. I try to get to as many of them as I can, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Maybe the travel costs are too high, or maybe I’m already traveling to another event and simply can’t be in two places at once.
But guess what? Some of you are surprisingly resourceful! In the last year I’ve been getting more requests to “meet” with a group by webcam or telephone. It’s not exactly the same as being there, but for groups with a limited budget or a narrow window of time, this can be a great option. With a webcam visit, I’ll be able to see and hear you on my computer screen, and you’ll be able to see and hear me on your computer. It’s a simple video conference, and I promise the technology is very easy and affordable.
Option 1: Set up a Webcam or Telephone Visit at Your Regular Meeting Spot
A webcam visit is easier than you might think and costs very little. Here's what you need to get started:
- A computer with an Internet connection at your meeting place.
- A webcam with a microphone (available at any office supply or electronics store for as little as $40). It should take no more than 5-10 minutes to get this hooked up. Some computers come with a built-in webcam, especially Mac notebooks.
- Install Skype on your computer (it's free) and set up an account. If you prefer, we can also use the video chat feature in gmail. It's also free, and you'd just need to set up a Google account, and download this plugin.
- A projector so that you can project the video image on a screen for the whole group to see. This is not entirely necessary, but if you have a large group, it might be awkward for everyone to gather around the computer screen.
Once you have all those pieces in place, I'll be happy to test the equipment with you before the meeting.
And if you're not able to gather all those pieces together? We can always do a telephone call via speakerphone instead of videoconferencing.
Here's a short video I recorded with my webcam so you can get an idea of what this would look like:
Option 2: Arrange a Videoconference Event at Your Local Library or College
Many libraries and colleges have videoconferencing facilities that community groups can use for a small fee. If that's an option in your community, then all you need to do is to put their technology people in touch with me to figure out how to make the connection work on my end. Once we work that out, you would just show up at their facility and enjoy! Please note that some facilities will charge you a fee for the use of their videoconferencing equipment.
We can even do a 'virtual' booksigning!
If your group would like to buy books from me, I can sign them during our event, write personal inscriptions, and ship the box of books to you after the event. Books would simply need to be ordered in advance through the bookstore my husband and I own, Eureka Books. (Click here to find out more)
If your members already have books they'd like signed, I can sign bookplates during our event, send those to you, and you can add the bookplates to your own books. You can even sell books yourself at the event and make a nice profit for your group--just ask about that when you get in touch.