Zoom Room Meeting protocols:
This is the third part of a series of three blogs outlining how to set up and run Zoom social meetings. The first part is how to download and set up the Zoom App, the second part is topics for discussion and the third part is how to set up a zoom discussion/support group.
The Zoom Room experience has been fun and interesting. I think we and others broke new group during COVID19. I have made a list of some of issues that may came up and how your group might tackle them. Option 1 is to set up some meeting protocols at the beginning. Option 2 is to deal with protocols as you go along. Initially too many protocols can be overwhelming, but they can help to set some expectations about behaviour and help build stability during a time of rapid social change and unpredictability.
- Structured vs unstructured meetings: Members will have different experience with speaking out in a group or in a video format. Some people will not want to show their face and just use audio. Some people like having a set time and sequence to speak and others like a more random conversation like at a cocktail party. Try out both modes and see what the group like. The unstructured mode can generate spontaneous discussions, but quiet people may need a prompt from the group leader.
- Focus Be clear about the intent of the Zoom meeting, but this can morph over time.
- Security: lots of people are anxious about the possibility of being hacked. Some general discussion might be helpful about how to protect privacy on Zoom.
- Behaviour: There seems to be some unwritten code of conduct on Zoom. Some of these codes of conduct are about swearing, disrespect, grandstanding, interjections, people talking over each other etc. A group leader needs to attend to these behaviours so they don’t sabotage the meeting.
- Privacy/confidentiality – I have found that bonding occurs in most Zoom meetings. This includes my ESL students as well as friends and acquaintances. I have found conversations are quite deep and that people are open about self disclosure. As a result there is an assumed level of privacy, which is not often explicitly discussed in the meetings.– Decide if you mind having family, guests or others in the Zoom room. Sometimes girl talk is private! Sharing the meeting content with people outside the meeting may come up as an issue. Find a level that is acceptable to most people. If you are a blogger and want to blog about your experiences with the group, get a pre-approval from individuals if you want to refer to their blog or post pictures. One Zoomer says ” What is said in Zoom stays in Zoom”.
- Time out– Feel free to take time out or leave when you need to. Give the group the heads up.
- New members/visitors/guest speakers– There may be subtle groups norms in your group. Its a bit like clique in high school. One group may want to keep the same members and others may welcome new members. In this moment of COVID 19, being open to new members may be the more altruistic approach but it may be challenging for new members to get up to speed. Getting some agreement about these issues early on is wise.
- Zoom fatigue:-
Many people who are working at home may be too Zoomed out to participate. This might lend itself to a once a month drop-in Zoom meeting with a guest speaker that doesn’t require a high cognitive demand.
constant vs rotating. Once members have learned the Zoom process, they can take on some responsibility for organizing meetings and being the discussion leader. Having the same facilitator is easy but rotating facilitators builds Zoom confidence and polishes up social skills in a time of isolation. Give people a few weeks to get comfortable with the format.
- Leadership skills: Having a group leader which experience with organizing and chairing meetings can be an asset. Having a chair who understands meeting dynamics is helpful too.