If you live remotely, are away from home, or just want to connect from the comfort of your front room, it's possible to co-host meet-ups online. You'll probably know that it can also be disconnecting - not just when the internet cuts out - but a few simple ground rules can help you get past any issues. We've included our suggestions below.
There are many options for hosting group video chats: from Skype, to FaceTime, to Google Hangouts. If you and your group already have a favourite platform, please use that! Otherwise, we recommend Appear.in for simplicity.
For many, Appear.in is the simplest video solution. You just go to a web address, and you’re straight into the chat. Here’s how to use it for your conversation:
- Appear.in should work on all browsers, but if you’re using Safari, make sure you have the latest version. If you can use the Google Chrome browser for the best experience.
- Go to Appear.in and create a room link on the front page. Call it something unique like "Free The Change - Pitlochry". After that, click “Create new room” and it will take you to a unique video chat web link that you can share with your group members.
- Go to the link and make sure your own video works. Then send the web link to a friend and ask them to briefly test it with you.
- Finally, send the web link to your participants along with the time and date for your online conversation. Ask them to test the link ahead of time to make sure their video works.
- At the beginning of your conversation, ask participants to click “Guest (edit name)” to enter theirs. And you're off!
If you have tech problems – don’t panic. Try using Google Chrome or restarting your computer.
SUGGESTED GROUND RULES
- Agree which Supporting Tools or materials everyone should have to hand in advance - and read them over before the conversation. It's more distracting to start searching for things in video chat than it is face-to-face.
- Position yourself so you are not lit from behind (i.e., avoid sitting in front of a window or lamp). This will stop you turning into a silhouette.
- Using headphones plugged into your computer can enhance your audio experience (and other people's).
- Speak clearly and a little more slowly than normal.
- Try to minimize environmental distractions (e.g. barking dogs, ringing phones, etc). If you have unexpected noise, please mute yourself until things quiet down.
- Test out your video platform about 10-15 minutes ahead of time, if you can. It's fine to keep it running in the background as people gradually join the online conversation and make cups of tea. Then you're all ready to start on time.
- At the end of the conversation, please use the Feedback Tools to share what you've enjoyed / learned.
Between you, re-send/share these ground rules / tips in advance of each meet-up. They are all-too easy to forget.