Changeover Ideas

This Rotary year's end is fast approaching.
Officers-elect are planning their year in office. Current officers are hoping they can put their feet up and everyone prepares to celebrate the year of hard work with one of our annual ceremonies, The Changeover.
Our traditional changeovers, like many things in the Covid-19 World, aren't an option. But where some clubs are opting to cancel or postpone the changeovers, many are asking another question. “How might we do our changeover online”?
While many of us may feel this is a challenge that may be beyond us, we have seen recently many of us have adapted. We will remember how recently we successfully re-imaged Anzac Day and the entire set of cultural ceremonies that are normally built around physical proximity. And unlike Anzac Day we have already had a lot of experience in the world of virtual events.
What's Important in a Rotary Club Changeover.
The “Rotary chicken” dinner aside, why is it that changeovers are important to us? This answer will vary from club to club. It's important to think about what is important to us. We can design changeover events that reflect what we value most and remembering why they are important to us.
Celebrating Accomplishments are an integral part of changeovers and being able to look back on our achievements of the last 12 months. Such reflections are not just for the vanity of the President and the Board, but something all Rotarians can take pride in.
Acknowledging Service follows on to this. Honouring those Rotarians who stand out amongst us remains important. Hard work and service to the club in the community and generosity to the Foundation are celebrated.
Looking Forward to the year ahead, where we can see new opportunities for Service above Self, and working to build a brighter future for the world.
Fellowship and Banter can be more difficult over Zoom, but it is even more critical now than ever before. Let's remember why we love doing what we do as we join with our fellow Rotarians not just as partners in service but dear friends.
The fortunate news is that we don't necessarily have to change. If your club has a changeover program that they are attached to, see what you can do to convert it to working online. If in doubt hold discussions about what is vital for the club. What do the President and President Elect want and how will the Master of Ceremonies accommodate everyone's needs.
Unlike most things, changeover protocols are absent in our constitutions, bylaws or formally mandated. Instead make it something to reflect what your club wants and needs it to be.
How Do We Practically Run the Event.
Most active Rotarians will now have experience using videoconferencing for the club meetings.
Online meetings can be a bit like herding cats; things are constantly changing, everyone wants to do their own thing, and nobody is quite sure what the purpose of having a herd of cats is in the first place. So, what is the magical solution to running a good online event?
We already know the answer: Having a good master of ceremonies.
Being able to keep the event flowing, the audience interested, everyone on time and in order is equally important online as it is in person.
Having someone in charge who can keep things going in the face of disruptive audiences, or an old charter member who wishes to recount the history of their Rotary life, is essential to a good event.
But there's another part: Knowing the Platform.
Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms have a lot of useful features for the event host. Being able to forcibly mute participants, having people raise their hand to indicate a desire to speak and the ability to share presentations are all handy. The MC doesn't have to be an expert on Zoom but it might be useful to have an assistant MC to manage the technology.
How Might We Run Our Particular Rituals.
Awards ceremony.
Honouring our fellow Rotarians is just as important this year as in other years. The process can be very much the same, with the Club Presidents announcing recipients of the awards. Not all awards are a surprise. Examples include Paul Harris Society members know they are likely to receive an upgrade to award. Surprise awards (such as a PHF or a President’s Award) can be easily managed.  Mail the award on the day of the changeover, announce it at the changeover and they will receive soon after.
Due to the limitations of the physical universe, your club Presidential collar, or other regalia, can only be in one place at any given time. How do you handle this?
Consider the significance of physical transfer and how it works with your club given your clubs tradition and cultures.
Do physically hand over the regalia before the event or after. Would you consider having each president take a photo or video with collar as part of the presentation. You may simplify things by not using the collar in this year's formal ceremony at all.
Badges for offices are much simpler and can be mailed ahead of time, similar to awards. As the incoming President calls their names, they display the badge of their position to the audience.
National Anthem.
The singing of the National anthem varies between clubs. If you've ever heard two people trying to talk at once on a video call multiply that by several times to imagine trying to sing the National anthem at the changeover. No matter how disciplined the timing, the technology just won't work. Another option is to play recording of the National anthem and everyone sings along on mute.
Other Things.
Your club may have other ceremonies or habits that you undertake at changeover. How might you handle it?
Experiment and practice. Things may need to be adapted, modified, or in some cases even sidelined for the year.
How Do You Handle a Large Number of Attendees?
Everyone who has been in a large Zoom call knows it is difficult to spot who is talking, or where that person is, even if they are the only ones talking and unmuted.
An option is to use the spotlight video feature of zoom, similar to the Speaker view which will enable the host to display everyone, or a single person of the host’s choice, on the screen. During awards you could focus on the person receiving the award.
Start planning and practising now.
Could We Put it on Hold Until After the Pandemic?
The Club changeover belongs to the club and is run for the benefit of the Rotarians of the Club.
Before deciding on that, considered 2 things.
Changeovers are moments in time.
 We hold them as close as possible to the change of the Rotary year as a point of significance in transition. The further away we are from July 1 to hold the event, the less meaning it may have. When a physical changeover is in November will it be more meaningful than a virtual one in June?
Covid-19 is Challenging Member Engagement.
Even with all our efforts, it can be harder to feel attached to Rotary at the moment. Changeovers are a moment to celebrate what we do and the value of what we are. If we just ignore this event, will individual Rotarians find it harder to justify paying their annual dues. We need to keep our members engaged and part of what we do.
I have put this together for some guidance to Presidents and Presidents Elect as we are unsure as to when this lockdown will end.
If you have any questions or want any advice, but please contact me at your convenience.
Yours in Rotary service.
Tim Klar
District Governor  District 9520