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Meeting Planning Toolkit

A meeting held over video presents its own challenges and specific arrangements. The resources and tips in this section are intended to assist you in preparing for and conducting a successful videoconference meeting:

Preliminary Planning
Roles and Responsibilities
Marketing Ideas

Tips and Tricks for ...

Guest Presenters

Meeting Facilitator/Chairperson/Moderator

Video Conference Etiquette

Remote Site Facilitators


Preliminary Planning

The first step is to gather information about possible dates, times, and locations for your event. Estimate the number of attendees at each location. This will help you determine which room at the site selected will be sufficient to accommodate your group.

Consider if you will need the use of any visual aids such as a laptop computer, DVD player/VCR, or document camera.

Arrange for someone from your group or organization to serve as facilitator at each site.

As with a traditional meeting, the participants in a videoconference meeting each have a specific role to make it run smoothly and efficiently.

Roles and Responsibilities 

Scheduling information to assist you in scheduling the event.

Performed By
Notify Sites Host/Person Requesting Event The IVN Scheduler sends an event confirmation to the person requesting the event and any IVN Public Higher Education rooms. It is the responsibility of the host/person requesting the event to notify other sites involved.
Notify Attendees Host/Person Requesting Event The host is responsible for notifying the meeting attendees of all meeting details: date, time, and location. Send agenda and any meeting items electronically through email if possible.
Start Meeting Host/Facilitator It is recommended the facilitator arrives 10-15 minutes prior to the meeting(if room is not in use). Set up any audio visual aid on the equipment.
Instruct Attendees Host/Facilitator

Do a quick roll call of sites at the start of the meeting. You may wish to have them introduce themselves if there is a limited number of attendees. Provide information on how to participate in the meeting such as:

  1. Mute mics when not speaking.
  2. Before speaking, identify yourself. Ex. "This is Dick from Minot." This allows the camera ample time to switch before you begin to make a statement.
  3. Frame your shot - when you speak, make sure the camera focuses on you, not the room.
Present Content Presenter Meet with the videoconferencing site coordinator to test all equipment you plan to use 2-3 days prior to the meeting. Make sure you have a back-up plan in place should equipment fail.
Manage Meeting Host/Facilitator The facilitator/host should make sure the meeting stays on course. Ask interactive questions to encourage discussion.
Wrap up with any closing announcements or meeting summary at least 5 minutes before the meeting ends.
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 Marketing Ideas

Consider these suggestions when preparing your marketing media:

  • Know your target audience.
    Make a list of potential groups that would be interested in this presentation.

  • Determine which media to use.
    Consider flyers or brochures, website, or any type of journals or newsletters associated with the audience. Also think about e-mail or list-servs.

  • Set a timeline for your mailings.
    Think about the number of mailings you wish to have and set deadline dates for printing, mailings and other promotional pieces. Are mailing lists available from groups associated with the meeting or attendance lists from prior meetings?

Information for Promotional Piece/Advertising:

  • Official title of the course/workshop/seminar and brief description.
  • Specific times, dates, and location (include building and room number).
  • Originating location/program and instructor.
  • Registration information (when, where, how much, and deadline date). Will you take registrations online? Via fax or phone?
  • Any credits? - college or other professional organization.
  • Name of contact person with address and phone number.
  • Include an event description in all advertising with reference to where more information may be obtained.
  • If the course is dependent upon a certain number, include that information in the promotional piece.
  • Add your group's logo to your promotional material along with address, phone, fax and e-mail address and/or website address.

Registration Information

  • Confirm with your attendees the date, time (include both central and mountain time), address, and maps to the locations of the sites the event will be held.
  • Have at least one person at each site to assist with on-site registration/check-in and distribution of any handouts.
  • Brief the site contact on the type of event, who will present it, and any background information.
  • Always include telephone numbers for assistance.
    Anticipate questions.
  • Brief the person responsible for answering questions about the course.

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Tips and Tricks for ....

Guest Presenters
This information will assist in delivering a quality presentation to make your videoconference experience a success.

About the Videoconference Equipment
You may wish to visit the site from which you present if you have never conducted a presentation over video. Contact the site or room coordinator from which you will present to schedule a visit.

Presentation preparation tips and an overview of what to expect in a video classroom. Click on the speaker icon found in the lower right hand corner to listen to the audio portion of the PowerPoint.

Avoid continuous lecture as no one likes a talking head. Lecture for no more than 10-15 minutes.
• Intersperse your lecture with a video clip, group work, or PowerPoint.

All IVN Public Rooms have a document camera and a VCR/DVD player available. If you are using a room other than an IVN Public Room, note that NOT all rooms are equipped alike. Check with the site/room contact from which you will be presenting to find out what is available.

Document Camera
The document camera is an overhead projector used for videoconferencing. It can display printed materials or objects. Using a document camera allows you to write on the document or point to items on the document as opposed to a laptop computer.

Prepare your presentation using paper materials and follow these suggestions:

  • Use a landscape format.
  • Keep margins at 1 to 1 ½ inches.
  • Use 36 point font or larger in typestyles such as Verdana, Helvetica, Tahoma or any other san serif type. Anything smaller will be hard to read at the remote sites.
  • Avoid saturated colors such as deep reds, blues or greens as they tend to smear and bleed over video.
  • Use a pastel color such as ivory, light gray or blue instead of white paper.
  • PowerPoint slides work well on the document camera. Print them out one slide per page.

Training module on using the document camera in a videoconference classroom.

Laptop Presentations

  • Not all campuses will have a laptop or desktop computer for you to use. Also some may have a security policy in place that may not allow outside computers. Check with your room or site contact. Also let them know if you will require an Internet connection.
  • Follow the same guidelines as listed under Document Camera or check out the Preparing Visual Aids section on the ALT website when preparing a PowerPoint presentation.
  • Set your screen to 800 x 600. Do not change the screen display once the presentation has started. This may bring down your event and other events as well.
  • Print out your PowerPoint presentation as a backup in case the computer encounters a technical problem. The PowerPoint can then be shown on the document camera.

VCR/DVD Presentations

  • Check with your site/room contact at your location at least a week prior to the event to ensure the video can be seen or used with the machine in the room.
  • Keep the video segment short and related to the issue of discussion.
  • Pre-set your tape/DVD to begin at the spot you want participants to view.
  • Follow copyright rules and regulations.

Presentation Tips

  • Speak in your normal voice. The microphones are sensitive and will pick up the slightest noise.
  • Allow for at least a two second delay when asking a question. This allows all sites to hear your message. Pause briefly so others can respond.
  • Eye contact - to maintain eye contact with your host site and remote/receiving sites, look slightly above the heads of the audience in your room and slightly below the instructor camera. This gives the appearance that you are speaking directly to both groups.
  • Limit your movements to a small area. Too much movement makes it difficult for the camera to focus.
  • Repeat questions from the audience so everyone can hear.
  • Have a list of all sites involved in the event so you can call a site for questions. Example: Are there any questions from Minot, any questions from Langdon, etc.
  • Develop a back-up plan. This is technology and some equipment or network may malfunction.

Establish Event Protocol
The presenter sets the stage for how the audience will conduct itself, if it be face-to-face or over video. Provide the participants with protocol on how to have the event conducted. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Have the participant announce their name and site when they speak. Example: “This is Jane at Grand Forks, I have a question.” This also allows time for the system to switch to the site.
  • Remind participants that microphones are sensitive and pick up the slightest noise. Have them avoid pencil tapping, rustling papers near the microphones, or sidebar conversations.
  • The presenter may wish to have all mics muted and ask for questions at a particular time.
  • Stay on time. Wrap up at least 5 minutes prior to the end time.

What to Wear
Like television there are certain colors and patterns that flatter a person and do not distort the image from the eye of the camera.

  • Avoid plaids, herringbone, or bold print.
  • Solid pastel colors, shades of blue or gray work best depending upon the background.
  • Avoid wearing bright or bold shades of red, orange, and green which may cause an unfriendly hue to the viewer.
  • Avoid wearing chunky jewelry as the noise will interfere with the microphone.
  • If you wear white or black, accent it with a scarf or tie.
  • Try not to wear colors that match your skin and hair tones.

Resources for this information provided by these websites: Rhode Island Network for Educational Technology, Distance Learning – Texas State Library and Archives Commission, TKO Videoconferencing, Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration

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Meeting Facilitator/Chairperson/Moderator Guidelines

Here are some tips to keep in mind once the videoconference meeting is planned and scheduled with the local higher education site coordinator :

Prior to the meeting/event:
Plan Ahead

  • Notify all participants of the date, time, and location of the event. Campus maps can be found here.
  • Appoint an individual on your staff to serve as contact person who will be responsible for scheduling/organizing the event. This may or may not be the facilitator or presenter.
  • Have a facilitator at each participating remote site. Check your list of registrants or those planning on attending and select someone for this responsibility.
  • Make sure that the remote site facilitators are aware of what is expected of them before, during, and after the videoconference.
  • Ask participants to respond ahead of time as to whether or not they will attend.
    This allows ample time to cancel a site if there are no attendees and allow another party to use the system.
  • Distribute agenda and other materials. Send the materials via e-mail to the participants or appoint a facilitator at each site and send the materials to them to distribute at the meeting.
  • Contact the site coordinator if you plan to use any audio visual equipment. Not all equipment is available at all sites. Test equipment in the videoconference room prior to the event, not 10 minutes before. Make sure there is a backup plan in place should equipment fail.
  • Provide participants with the phone number of the host site videoconference room. Instruct them to call this number first if having problems. It is the responsibility of the host site to contact the IVN Help Desk if there are problems.
  • Develop a backup plan/activity/discussion and send to remote site facilitators for participants at each site in the event that technical issues arise.

On the day of the meeting/event:
Know who is in charge.......

  • Arrive at the site 10 minutes prior to the event. If you need to arrive earlier, check with the site coordinator if the room is available.
  • Start your meeting on time. Conduct a roll call of sites – this ensures all sites are on and tests the audio and video.
  • Open with an introduction or statement of the meeting title. Introduce yourself. If time permits and depending upon the size of the group, have the other sites and participants introduce themselves as well.
  • Begin by requesting that all sites mute their microphones if not already muted. This cuts down on noise interference. Have them unmute mics only to ask a question.
  • Review the agenda and time allotted. (Note: At the scheduled end time of the videoconference, the system will automatically disconnect and shut down. Please end on time if this is a point-to-point connection.)
  • Establish ground rules for asking questions or providing information. Have the participants mute the mics until they ask a question. Sidebar conversations, moving paper, and any small noise will be projected at other sites unless mics are muted. People can still see your actions even if mics are muted.
  • Unmute the mics when you are ready to speak. Announce yourself by stating your name and location. Example: “This is Dick from Minot”. This also provides ample time for the camera to switch to the site of the person speaking.

Conference/event etiquette:
Know your equipment....... if you or another participant plan on serving as technician for the event, schedule training on the equipment prior to the event with the site coordinator.

  • Frame your shot – make sure the camera is focused on the person speaking and not another part of the room. Same rule applies to documents or other visual aids.
  • Allow the on-screen site to finish speaking before answering. Multiple sites speaking at once can cause delays in switching.
  • Sidebar conversations and other room noises are picked up by the microphones. It is a good idea to mute your microphones when not speaking.
  • There is a slight delay in receiving the video from a site after the person begins speaking. This is normal.
  • Try to be within a camera’s field of vision when speaking.
  • Keep the meeting or workshop focused and encourage participation by calling on all sites individually. Track and manage participation with a site list if necessary (mark as sites participate).
  • Notify a room technician immediately if you have problems. If one is not available, call the IVN Help Desk at 701-777-6486, option #1. REMEMBER: The host site contacts the Help Desk. If any of the receiving sites are having problems, they should call the host site.

Ending your conference:

  • Allow a few minutes for review and final questions. Allow the last 5 minutes for review, final questions, and wrap up. The videoconference will end at the time you scheduled.
  • Summarize key points and decisions. Direct unrelated items to future discussion (write these down).
  • If you are conducting a point-to-point meeting (only two sites involved), the host/originating site needs to hang up.
    Remember to end on time! Other events will need to start and they can not do so if you do not hang up.

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Remote Site Facilitators

  • If you are not familiar with basic operational functions of the equipment, ask the videoconferencing technical staff at your site to provide you with a demonstration or overview of basic functions.
  • Ensure that a wide screen shot of all participants in the room is viewable by the other sites when no one is speaking at your site.
  • Adjust cameras to focus on the person at your site who is speaking if microphone presets are not being used.
  • Know how to contact local videoconferencing technical support staff should technical issues arise.

    Source: Distance Learning – Texas Library and Archives Commission
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Videoconferencing Meeting Etiquette - Quick Tips

Here are a few helpful tips for you, the facilitator, to start your meeting:

  • Conduct a roll call of sites - this ensures all sites are on and tests the audio.
  • Introductions - if time permits and there is a limited number of participants, have them introduce themselves.
  • Inform meeting participants of videoconference meeting protocol:
  1. Mute the mics – sidebar conversations, moving paper, and any small noise will be projected at other sites. Remember even if mics are muted, people can still see your actions.
  2. Unmute the mics when you are ready to speak. Announce yourself by stating your name and location. Example: “This is Dick from Minot”. This also provides ample time for the camera to switch to the site of the person speaking.
  3. Frame your shot – make sure the camera is focused on the person speaking and not another part of the room. Same rule applies to documents or other visual aids.

    If you experience videoconferencing problems during your event, don’t panic. Contact your local site/tech coordinator on duty or call the IVN Help Desk at 701-777-6486 ext 1.

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  • Allow the on-screen site to finish speaking before answering. Multiple sites speaking at once can cause delays in the switching.
  • Try to use complete sentences and avoid one-word answers.
  • Announce your name and the location prior to speaking. This allows the video time to switch to your site.
  • There is a slight delay, be sure the person is finished speaking before you speak. Also pause from time to time to allow for questions.
  • Try to be within the camera's field of vision when speaking.
  • Speak in your normal tone as you would in a face-to-face meeting. There is no need to yell into the microphone.
  • Arrive on time or early as it is distracting to other participating sites when people come in and out of the room once a session has started.
  • Keep the microphone muted when not speaking unless told otherwise.
  • Avoid unnecessary movement, sidebar conversations, or the creation of other distracting noise during the session.
  • Consider yourself viewable at all times by all other participating sites so don’t forget your manners.
  • Please respond one way or the other if your site is asked "Do you have any questions?". You might respond, "(name of site) has no questions, thank you".

    Source: Nova Scotia Telehealth Network Videoconferencing
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Participant Reminders

The brochure will print 3 columns on a page, set in landscape format. You can either e-mail this brochure to participants or print them off and hand out during the meeting. Click here for brochure.