SFAR will continue to use Zoom for all meetings and webinars in 2021.
As we transition to online by default for our business meetings it is important that we follow common protocols to set expectations and share some tips and tricks for staying on track while we adjust to a new normal. SFAR is utilizing Zoom, but in your own business you might be using a different software solution (such as GoToMeeting, WebEx, or Microsoft Teams).
Setup and Installation (Zoom users only)
These links can be found on the Zoom Download Center (ZDC) here: https://zoom.us/download if you lose this guide.
1. Update your Zoom Client installed version to the latest from the ZDC. If you are prompted to update your client, always complete the update as soon as it is practical to do so.
2. Install the Microsoft Outlook Plugin for planning and setting up meetings. This is critical for staff who host and operate committee meetings. If you are a committee participant who uses Outlook you may also find this super beneficial.
3. If you are using Google Chrome or Firefox as your default web browser, installing the appropriate browser plugin will greatly improve usability.
Power Users (MLS & Association Staff, Committee Chairs): we recommend that you install the Outlook plugin, or use the Chrome/Firefox browser plugin if you use a webmail client like Gmail.
General Members (those who participate in committees frequently): if you use Outlook, get the integration plugin to access better integration features. The browser plugins may not be as useful if you don’t organize meetings. The Zoom Client will be sufficient.
General Rules (all users, all platforms)
Please observe these crucial rules when connecting to a web meeting. For regularly scheduled meetings (committees) try to treat the web meeting as if it was in-person, within reason. The following guidelines are provided.
1. As much as possible, try to limit other noise sources in your environment (always turn off music/radio, TVs, other web browser tabs with sound and streaming devices).
2. When you’re not speaking use any available MUTE controls to reduce feedback and echo. If you are connected using your computer (for video) and ALSO your phone (for voice) make sure you completely turn off your computer's audio so that other attendees don't hear feedback or sound doubling.
3. Try to maintain a distance from your camera that keeps your full face in the frame. If you are "leaning in" because you are experiencing quiet audio, consider the use of a purpose-built headset or headphones that makes other speakers more clear.
4. Refrain from eating while your video is enabled. We are all multi-taskers – occasionally you will have no choice but to eat during a meeting, but please ensure video is DISABLED the entire time and please MUTE yourself.
5. Be careful about engaging in distracted situations (particularly driving) while connected to meetings. Meetings generally require more attention than simple calls, please be careful.
SFAR’s Meeting Management Rules (all SFAR hosted meetings)
SFAR staff and liaisons who host meetings are instructed to follow these meeting management rules in order to keep our meetings safe and secure. As a Chair or Co-Chair, you are encouraged to use similar rules during meetings where you are the host.
If you would like to create more specific rules for your committee, please make sure you provide those guidelines to your committee (in meeting invites, and/or at the beginning of each meeting) so that expectations are clearly laid out for all participants.
If you have questions regarding a required staff rule as detailed here, please contact CEO Walt Baczkowski and your committee Chairs.
1. If a meeting participant has loud or distracting noise in the background, the host will mute them. They should unmute themselves to speak and after if they do not re-mute, the host will again mute them.
2. If a meeting participant has distracting visual elements in their frame, the host will disable their video.
If you cannot change your background elements look for “Virtual Background” controls in your web conferencing application. For help on setting a virtual background in Zoom, click here.
3. If a meeting participant is visibly distracted (driving with video on, interacting with other 3rd parties such as store clerks, using the bathroom) they will be disconnected from the meeting for safety reasons. In SFAR hosted meetings with a staff liaison this will be strictly enforced.
Attending a large meeting while driving (audio-only) is NOT recommended. If you are a passenger in transit, please follow the general rule on using mute as much as possible to reduce background/road noise. Please ensure you are NOT using video if you are forced to attend a meeting while in transit.
4. If a meeting participant cannot be identified and will not identify themselves when called to do so, staff are required to remove that meeting participant before the meeting continues. If possible, use a laptop, tablet or smart device that clearly identifies who you are. The host of the meeting has controls for renaming voice-callers using the phone dial-in numbers.
If you have had your video or audio disabled, please send a private message to the host only asking what steps or changes are needed before you re-enable your audio or video.
By following these guidelines, we can all stay engaged in our meetings and maintain a professional online work environment, regardless of how ‘distanced’ we must currently remain. Thank you so much for your consideration as we shift to the new paradigm.