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Maintenance of order while conducting an online meeting with chat


Guest Michael Ropp

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I conduct many meetings online.  I'm not sure how to ensure proper discussion flow when the "chat" feature of the online tool is enabled, because there's no way to determine who has the floor.  I saw a thread in the Advanced Topics section on "aural meetings" that seemed to me to imply that Robert's Rules may actually preclude the use of the chat feature.  I can turn chat off in my online tool, but chat can also be valuable--e.g., some of us communicate better in written form.  How have others managed this situation of doing an online meeting with the verbal conversation proceeding using RR but with the chat active?  How do you avoid having the chat turn into the Wild Wild West?

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On 6/12/2024 at 7:23 PM, Guest Michael Ropp said:

How have others managed this situation of doing an online meeting with the verbal conversation proceeding using RR but with the chat active?  How do you avoid having the chat turn into the Wild Wild West?

Dr. Kapur‘s suggestion to simply turn off chat may well be the best solution. Different organizations handle this issue differently.  For some organizations, a policy (formal or informal) of not using chat except for very limited purposes works well. For other organizations, it doesn’t. Some organizations find the chat feature very useful for such things as posting the exact text of motions. 

I personally find chat to be distracting, especially if no limits are put upon its use. I do find it very useful, however, for such things as posting the exact text of proposed motions, citations and excerpts from RONR, useful links, etc.
 

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On 6/13/2024 at 6:31 AM, Atul Kapur said:

Turn it off. Not being facetious.

I understand why it should be turned off. But how do we make sure people can raise points of order, etc.? This is a large meeting and the Chair can't filter people who raise hands randomly vs specific points.

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Does the software (which I'll assume the organization is permitted to use) let you use different signals? Sometimes, for instance, there's raised hand, waving, stop sign, yellow flag, and smiley face. If so, you can assign different meanings to these, such as waving for a motion that is permitted to interrupt pending business. Sure, that can be abused, but so can anything.

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On 6/14/2024 at 9:07 AM, Guest Martha said:

I understand why it should be turned off. But how do we make sure people can raise points of order, etc.? This is a large meeting and the Chair can't filter people who raise hands randomly vs specific points.

Why can’t the members be permitted to unmute themselves to make points of order, etc.?  How many people are participating in these online meetings?

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On 6/14/2024 at 8:45 AM, Richard Brown said:

Why can’t the members be permitted to unmute themselves to make points of order, etc.?  How many people are participating in these online meetings?

The Chair insists on muting everyone so we have no choice. Are you recommending they stop doing that?

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On 6/14/2024 at 10:00 AM, Guest Martha said:

The Chair insists on muting everyone so we have no choice. Are you recommending they stop doing that?

Quite possibly, yes. By what authority does the chair keep everyone’s microphone muted? Members have to have some means of raising points of order, making privileged motions, etc.

You have not answered my question about how many members are usually participating in these online meetings. Can you answer that? 

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On 6/14/2024 at 9:16 AM, Richard Brown said:

Quite possibly, yes. By what authority does the chair keep everyone’s microphone muted? Members have to have some means of raising points of order, making privileged motions, etc.

You have not answered my question about how many members are usually participating in these online meetings. Can you answer that? 

There are about 40 people in attendance.

When you mention "authority" it makes me wonder if the default is that mikes are unmuted, unless the assembly gives the Chair the authority to mute?  Then, he would deal with potential disruptions the same way he would if they were done in a face to face meeting.

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On 6/14/2024 at 4:09 PM, Guest Martha said:

There are about 40 people in attendance.

Letting the members unmute themselves should not normally be a problem in online meetings of this size.

On 6/14/2024 at 4:09 PM, Guest Martha said:

When you mention "authority" it makes me wonder if the default is that mikes are unmuted, unless the assembly gives the Chair the authority to mute?  Then, he would deal with potential disruptions the same way he would if they were done in a face to face meeting.

Bingo!  That is essentially how those things normally work out, but you really need your own rules for dealing with those issues.  I would point out, however, that mics should normally be muted unless the member is speaking so as to reduce background noise and feedback, but the members should have the power to unmute themselves.

 

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