Yesterday, I asked my wise, worldly readers to describe the emerging etiquette of when to ask in-chat questions in Zoom, instead of speaking them out loud.
As always, they stepped up to the plate. My thanks to all who responded!
The good news and the bad news is that there doesn’t seem to be a consistent rule yet. But people have offered good prospects via email and Twitter:
“The idea that this is a label issue is strange. If the comment needs to be written because it contains a hyperlink or is tangential or is of interest to only a few people, have a chat. If the commentary benefits the collaborative spirit, it can be done by microphone. There is literally a hand to raise.
I agree that the hand raising feature is great and got even better when it became more visible. But it only works when the person leading the meeting is watching it.
“It may seem a bit chaotic for some to post on the chat and others to ring aloud. I noticed that more people were using the hand raise feature. It makes the most sense to me as long as the president is watching him and calling people. “
“Our usual practice at [college] is that if someone wants to ask a question or make a comment, he puts “Q1” or “C1” (or 2, 3, etc.) in the chat, then he is called… or if he prefers to type their question or comment, the moderator will read them.
I like it because it’s easier to manage. I could steal this one.
“I’ll also be using the chat feature when another person is talking and it doesn’t look like they’re likely to wrap up anytime soon. I don’t want to interrupt you, but I want my thoughts taken into account. Finally, a number of my Zoom meetings involve people from all over the world, and the meeting language is English, but English is not the first language for many attendees. I want to give non-native English speakers enough time to present their ideas. Instead of rushing them, adding comments in the chat seems like a polite way of adding ideas but letting others speak at their own pace.
I like the idea of the cat as a kind of closed captioning. Even native speakers have had the frustration of being in a meeting, missing something, and wondering who to ask, “What did he say?” The chat allows for a reasonably elegant workaround.
“If it is in the Faculty Senate (which I chair), I will usually ask the senator to raise the matter on the floor so that it will be treated as a normal matter.” We are governed by our state’s Open Town Hall Act. (Participants cannot use chat at all.) However, if the comment is “aww, cute cat” or “congratulations! “Or” thank you! Variety, I generally won’t comment on that. (Some people send them to everyone, rather than privately.) So my rule is that no important business or conversation happens only in chat, but things that we would normally have been able to handle through body language can occur in the chat.
For a large public forum that involves answering questions from the public, Q&A is the best way I’ve seen to handle this on Zoom. The cat becomes unwieldy even with one person moderating it while another is talking. It’s easy to miss people’s questions, and the audience starts having full conversations in the chat while the panelists still have plenty of questions behind (if attendees can chat with anyone).
Q&A works pretty well in a webinar. Probably less well in a meeting. But I had to smile in gratitude to the people posting “aww” messages to everyone. I made it myself.
“At our weekly meetings of all the presidents and chancellors of the state community and technical colleges, the discussion room serves as a means of sharing information on the topic under consideration for your individual institution. We often have more than 50 participants, including State Board staff. so it would be difficult to get everyone to raise their hand and speak. We also use online surveys whether the question requires a simple yes or no. Sometimes State Board staff will ask questions about funding issues, enrollments, or immunization rates, and anyone can share their institution’s data in the chat room. Most of the time, Chairs comment on statements made by system staff or other Chairs in real time. I have sometimes addressed comments or questions to individual presidents who I know are going through similar situations to mine.
Seems about right.
“I attend up to 6 Zoom meetings each week. In one of them, I am the vice president of a [university] The online cohort and I monitor questions in the chat for the speaker or student practicing advocacy or whatever the topic. We have up to 40 participants. The chairman controls the entire meeting. We also have 4 teachers at most of the meetings. One person collects new emails, I answer chat questions, and another introduces the management team and the night’s plan. We teach attendees the etiquette of a large zoom meeting by raising the virtual hand and we can mute everyone. “
If you can get enough people involved, that makes a lot of sense. Often, however, this level of manpower is not really an option in my world. (I also envy anyone who only has six Zoom meetings a week!)
Finally, this from Chad Orzel:
“For large faculty meetings, I’m all in favor of typing questions into the Q&A / chat, as it greatly reduces the demagoguery and obstruction we are otherwise prone to. “
I have no idea what he’s referring to.
Zoom is still relatively new; I wouldn’t be surprised to see the label solidify more over time. Looks like we’re not there yet. But I am encouraged by the thoughtfulness with which people assess problems. Zoom may have been sparked by a pandemic, but it could end up helping us make meetings – especially the most important ones – more fair for everyone involved.
Thank you everyone!