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How to Chair a Videoconference
Chairing a face-to-face meeting effectively requires some skill and attention.  Chairing a meeting over videoconference requires even more effort as the participants are not all in the same room and may not be able to see each person at each of the sites all at once.  Furthermore, there is often a half second or more delay in a videoconference which can cause confusion when trying to interrupt someone talking or when several sites try and talk at once.  The following are some things to consider:
  • Show up early to the videoconference. The technicians or person responsible for making the connection to the remote  site(s) should be connecting early so there is time to troubleshoot problems before the participants arrive and the meeting gets underway.
    • make sure the room arrangement is to your satisfaction.
      • are the microphones in the right spot?
      • how are the camera angles - where do you want your participants to sit?
  • Introduce yourself to the technicians running the conference at each site. Make sure they know who you are and outline your expectations for the meeting.
  • Appoint a facilitator at each remote site. This person will represent their remote site and deal with any issues that may arise.  If the participants that are local to them want to speak, they will let their facilitator know.  The facilitator acts as a remote co-chair to make sure there is some order at their site.  As the chair, you should act as the facilitator for your site.  Be careful not to show favoritism to your local site participants.
    • Facilitators at the local sites should:
      • be responsible to make sure that their local site is working properly and if it is not to try and get it fixed.
      • ensure that each person at their site is heard.
      • ensure that camera presets are made and used when local participants are talking.
      • ensure that when local participants are not speaking, the camera is zoomed out on the group.
  • Follow an predetermined order when asking each site to respond. The facilitator at each remote site will be the first to respond and if someone at their site has a comment or question, the facilitator will turn the floor over to them.  This ensures each site is able to respond.  After giving each site a chance to respond, you may which to open the floor to any site that might have a follow up comment or make another round through the order.
  • Do a microphone check at each site to ensure that microphone placement and incoming and outgoing audio levels at each site are appropriate. Have the technicians at each site test the microphone levels from each seat to ensure there are no 'dead zones'.
  • Seat quiet talkers close to the microphone(s).

  • When the meeting begins, explain your expectations for how the meeting will be conducted and how the site facilitators will be used.
    • Describe the order that will be used for the sites to respond in the meeting.
    • Have each participant introduce themselves beginning with the facilitators at each site.  This is a good way to double check audio levels before getting into the business of the meeting.
  • Ask the remote sites to mute their microphones when they are not in use. This will ensure that video does not switch to their site if someone coughs or makes a noise.  It will also prevent such noises from being broadcast to the other sites and acting as a distraction.
  • Do not allow sites to engage in side conversations that cause low audio (mumbling) to be transmitted to the other sites.

  • Keep the meeting moving and look for participants who appear that they want to make a comment or are growing bored.

  • End the meeting with a round table following the same order for site comments that you have used.  Thank the facilitators and the participants.

  • Hang up quickly so after meeting chatter is not transmitted.
CRDC, University of Lethbridge
Last Updated on Monday, 29 March 2010 20:59