Every type of meeting involves etiquette: who speaks when; how decisions are made; how to keep order and make best use of the time; how to allow discussions to flow.
We are most used to face to face meeting and have a number of etiquette's for that in YWAM. But new technology gives us more possibilities for different type's of meetings. Developing new etiquettes are important as different medium have different strengths and weaknesses.
Face to Face Meetings
Tele-Conference or Skype Conferences
Donovan Palmer writes:
Below is a text only version of the last of a series of blogs I have written on communications and collaboration. You can view the graphic version at: http://donovanpalmer.com
Recently Skype added the capability to host up to 25 on a multiparty call. In effect a voice conference call. I have used this feature for small frequent leadership and management team meetings online on an increasing basis. I am finding it is a powerful way to keep up with each other and minimise your reliance on email. That said, there are some essential ingredients that one needs to consider to get the most out of this free communications tool.
- CHOOSE YOUR HOST CAREFULLY - Whoever initiates the conference call is the host. Because everyone will depend on this connection, the call is best hosted by whoever has the fastest computer and internet connection. If the host's internet connection or computer struggles, it affects the whole conference. The other option is to pay to have the call hosted by a third party like Hi-Def Conferencing. With a dedicated host, there is less of a likelihood that there will be performance and internet issues.
- HEADSETS FOR EVERYONE - Headsets are essential for everyone. I would almost say required. You can get away with sorting out sound problems on a one to one call, but with multiple participants it is near impossible. The problem is that all it takes is one person with a bad echo to make the conference difficult for everyone. In fact, the better the quality the headsets are, the better the conference is. Skype actually is in effect High Definition voice, which is better than your telephone. With a cheap headset, it is like hooking a black and white TV up to a high definition satellite or cable receiver. As a general rule I suggest Plantronics or Sennheiser brand headsets. Expect to pay at least £15 ($20) for a decent quality. Two models to consider are: Audio 625 or the Audio 650. With good equipment, you will obtain CD like sound and you will be more productive in your call, guaranteed. If you want to go all out, I have read extraordinary things about the Freetalk Wireless Stereo headset, but you will need to sell a vital organ to purchase it!
- GET EVERYONE TO A QUIET PLACE - Even with good headsets, you need everyone to be in a quiet place during the call. All it takes is one person sitting in a Starbucks, busy street side cafe, etc. with lots of background noise and it makes it hard for everyone to hear. Instruct all your participants to find a quiet place to do the voice conference from. Everyone will be much more productive.
- GET EVERYONE ON GOOD INTERNET CONNECTIONS - Because voice is in real live time, there is a big difference in the performance in your internet connection that you need for a conference in compared to just browsing the web. Voice and video over the internet doesn't play nicely with delays (lag and latency), so a good internet connection is needed. Unfortunately, a lot of cheap connections are generally oversold. At least here in the UK, if you want almost guaranteed good conditions at all times, go for one of the smaller "premium ISPs" like Zen, IDNet, AAISP and Newnet. These ISPs focus on quality, but have in place usage caps to insure quality. For 99% of users, these usage caps will be more than adequate providing you are not doing a lot of 24/7 peer to peer file sharing, but the benefit is that you will have a solid connection for voice and video conferencing at all times.
- TEST EQUIPMENT AHEAD OF TIME - If you have users that struggle with using Skype, encourage them to test out their connection 20 minutes before the conference with someone else one to one... ideally with someone who is a bit of a techie. This will enable the user to make sure their headset is plugged in, their internet connection is sorted and they are all ready to go when the voice conference starts.
With the right equipment, a Skype conference is an awesome way for teams to augment their face to face meetings. The cool thing is that there is no cost for using Skype other than what you are already spending on your internet connection. All you need to do is do a bit of planning and get some good equipment to make sure you can get the most out of the superior sound quality that Skype can offer.
Video-Conference (or Genesis)
Instant Messaging Conferences
- Before the meeting post a clear agenda well before the meeting so that informed decisions can be made. IM is not a great place for lots of explaining (too much typing).
- During the meeting:
- Remember that a lot of attendees are writing in their second language - there fore ignore all unimportant spellings and also try to leave give more time for them to respond. Lets not 'shout' over the voices of others by bombarding people with messages.
- Try to stay on topic! Jokes and Red herrings are fun but probably not helpful in a chat context!
- The Chairman will set the topic. Try to follow it. TYPING THINGS IN CAPITALS IS THE CHAIRMANS WAY OF CALLING FOR ORDER.
- Voting: if asked to vote please vote +1 for yes and -1 for no. 0 or nothing is an abstention.
- Enjoy the meeting - you can have private chats with another person - just try to pay attention to the main flow of things too.
- Post a transcript of the meeting for reference after the meeting in addition to the minutes
Wiki's can offer us a meeting style that is slower but broad. Here is a link to a blog article about Wiki meetings.