If you have been following along with these lessons, then you may be close to launching your session. This is the most important time.
However, even before launch day, I might hold “tech hours” for people who haven’t used Zoom or whatever technology I’m using. This gives them a chance to log on and check that everything is working. Sometimes, I will get my tech assistant to call and set up someone if they have never used Zoom and are very uncomfortable. I want everyone not to have to worry about the technology.
Robert Ouimet’s Essential Checklist of What Could Go Wrong
My friend Robert Ouimet has a great checklist. While it is for potentially more complicated web streaming, it has a lot of good advice.
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On the Day
On the day, I try to log on 30 minutes before the session. I ensure that my presentation and agenda/notes are all opened on my desktop and that I am well nourished and hopefully well rested. I usually initiate a waiting room in Zoom that holds everyone until I’m ready. I let in the ASL interpreters, other colleagues, and potentially the musician.
I make sure my tech assistant is aware of all the things they have to do, such as organizing the breakout rooms and ensuring that everyone who’s coming has the right tech to participate. Sometimes, I ask my tech assistant to call a participant and guide them through the set up if they have never used Zoom and may not be comfortable.
Music is a key part of the intro, so whether it’s a live musician or just me playing some music and sharing my desktop sound, I check the volume with my colleagues. Be aware that sometimes the sound to you is much quieter than to your audience, so check the volume prior to opening the session.
Then at about 10 minutes before, I open the online session and bring everyone in. I like to see three to four people in the waiting room before doing so to avoid the awkwardness of all of us talking to one participant. However, that’s OK sometimes as well.
All along, I update the waiting room and then the chat with indications of when we will begin. This helps settle everyone.
I also indicate whether there is anything specific they need, whether it be drawing materials and paper or a yoga mat.
Often, some people are late to the session, so I usually wait until 10 minutes after to start, but that is entirely up to you. If the majority of people are there and only a few people have not shown up, I usually start. I really like to respect the people that come on time. I also always end on time unless I’ve had a conversation with people that specifically asks whether people would agree to go long.
The worst sessions are the ones that go long and the facilitator is oblivious to the needs of others. This can be avoided by just asking the group what they want to do.
Then I begin!
Next up, ideas on Running the Meeting