Skype Meetings

Getting people together for meetings is not always easy, and there is considerable potential benefit in using Skype videoconferencing to conduct some meetings. Here are some notes on how this can work in a Quaker context. 


Preconditions

All participants must have computers, or be able to use somebody else's, including possibly sharing a machine with another participant.

All participating computers must have reasonable quality broadband access to the Internet (but the suggested protocol is designed to avoid putting too much pressure on bandwidth).

All participating computers must have Skype installed and activated (all free; very useful and you should do it anyway).

All (or nearly all) participating computers should have Webcams.

Each participant must have a Skype link to at least one other participant (established by sending and accepting a link request).


Protocol

There is always one of the participants who takes the role of convenor/chairman/facilitator/clerk.

The assignment of that role can be changed by agreement at any time before or during the meeting.

When a meeting is to be held the convenor arranges a time (and preferably also a duration), using e-mail or any other available means of communication for consultation with and notification to other participants.

At the appointed time participants start setting up Skype calls to other participants, whichever gets in first (!), until all are set up.

After an initial video greeting, all participants turn their video off (one click). Thereafter, turning video on is a request to speak (equivalent to standing up at a physical meeting).

The chairman opens the proceedings and thereafter nominates each new speaker in turn. The nominated speaker leaves the video on while holding the floor and turns it off when finished.

The chairman can interrupt the speaker at any time, to make a request or offer advice.

Other participants may request to interrupt the speaker at any time on a point of clarification by turning video on and raising a finger. The speaker may opt to take the query, while still holding the floor, and have whatever dialogue is required to resolve the question. 

The chairman remains invisible while acting as chairman but turns video on when taking the floor.