This document includes information about Remote Meetings such as how to participate & facilitate, and requirements, proposals, etc. for improving remote participation.
Good support for remote meeting participants is mandatory given the global distribution of Members and group participants as well as the reality that some Members and participants do not have the resources to attend face-to-face meetings (for example, typical Advisory Committee (AC) meetings only have about 25% of the Members at the meeting).
How to participate remotely in W3C meetings.
- Procure a good quality microphone and keep battery-powered headsets/mics charged
- Find a reasonably quiet space (e.g. a meeting room)
- Connect to W3C IRC and join the appropriate channel(s) a few minutes before the meeting
- Connect to the teleconference service before the scheduled start time of the meeting.
- See also: Zoom hints.
Techniques to Facilitate Remote Participation
If you are organizing or chairing a W3C meeting, please pay special attention to:
- Insist on disciplined use of a speaking queue
- Make sure people are using a microphone correctly
- if people wave it about, remind them to point it to their mouth
- if a participant's connection is causing echo, address that early in the meeting. Request them to consistently mute their microphone if they are unable to correct the echo.
- before speaking, state your name, even if you think you are a world-famous participant.
- speak slowly and clearly. Avoid eating peanuts while talking. Avoid slang too.
- IRC scribing. This is standard W3C practice, but doing it well is important for remote participants.
- Stick to entering an agenda, tell Zakim when agenda is moving on
- Stick to the published agenda so that people in distant timezones can attend the meeting at the appropriate time.
- post links to content presented and minute which slide is being viewed
- Sharing links, and putting text under discussion into IRC or online.
- Content presented needs to be available online *before* the meeting
- There are use cases, especially in WG meetings, where this should be relaxed. For example if a WG is collaborating on a list (like creating a list of requirements, planning discussion topics for teleconferences, etc.) in real time, it can be very useful to see the list as it develops. Wikis, "whiteboards" integrated into the teleconferencing service, even live screen-sharing may be OK for this provided they are accessible to all meeting participants. Flip charts can be hard to see for remote participants and need to be transcribed.
- Sufficient network reliability
- Microphones, and speakers that can be picked up by the connection hardware
- Videographers for larger group meetings (AC, TPAC, WorkShop)
- Real time scribes for meeting minutes and so local and remote attendees to run through translators.
- Content presentation: while anyone is free to use the tool of his choice, it's important that anyone can see it. Content must be made available online and should be done in advance of presentation using widely spread formats such as HTML5 (an obvious premium for that one), or at least PDF. Avoid Microsoft, Apple or LibreOffice formats which can exclude a lot of people.
- W3M should create a Web interface framed with:
- content presented on the top
- IRC log on the bottom
- Ideally, asking Zakim to switch from slides to slides would control the top part
Challenges encountered with remote participation.
In providing concrete examples please note the specific event, date, time, and nature of the problems encountered. We can then use these actual experiences to inform and prioritize the problem statements documented below.
- Network challenges
Internet access varies widely depending based on a number of parameters. The reliability and performance of it is probably the single biggest challenge to effective remote meetings. W3C Systems Team maintains a networking requirements page. Meeting venue itself if there is a face to face component. Hotels and conference centers often setup and tear down wireless networks per event contracted out to third party providers. We have often run into issues with hotel wifi. Organizations hosting the meeting tend to be behind corporate firewalls which may block protocols used by meeting software. IRC (port 6667) for instance is often blocked as it is used by compromised hosts to participate in botnet. W3C provides IRC on alternate ports (6667, 6665, 21 - ftp) and a web interface in part because of this. Companies and Universities often require credentials to access their wireless, an added issue for a presenter arriving at the last minute.
- Increased Administrivia Overhead
Various systems mask attendee identification data (caller ID) by design to increase privacy and/or user has obfuscated account name. Producing an accurate attendees list is more cumbersome especially as people join late and drop from the call.
- Proprietary offerings and client limitations.
Some meeting systems only have client presenter software for some but not all operating systems. @@unsure which are Accessibile@@
- Increased burden on Chair, Presenter and scribes.
This section describes problems and issues related to remote meeting participation.
Reason for remote participation:
- Travel costs and opportunity costs to attend a face-to-face meeting can be prohibitive for some participants, thus good support for remote participation is essential to help ensure all group members can directly and productively participate in meetings.
- New Members are interested in the topics of a meeting but want to test the water before committing resources to attend a meeting.
- IRC and voice conference are not sufficient for some remote meeting participants (especially for non-English speakers) to productively participate in a meeting
The overall structure and audience of a meeting present different issues. For example, some group meetings have a relatively small number of participants with few remote participants and the entire meeting is held in one room. Other meetings have hundreds of participants with parallel meetings in separate rooms and the remote participation can be challenging.
Advisory Committee meetings:
- Historically, AC meetings have a relatively low number of AC reps that attend the meetings (~25-30%). As such, most Members would benefit if AC meetings included good support for remote participation such live video feeds and/or recording the presentations and discussions for later view.
Technical Plenary meetings:
- Technical Plenary meetings can have hundreds of live participants (in one large room) and multiple parallel meetings
- Typically, group meetings (such as Working Groups, Interest Groups) are relatively small (10-30) and most participants directly participate. However, as was done recently (WebRTC group), a group's meeting could be co-located in more than one location and such scenarios require additional support (beyond basic IRC and phone conference) for an effective meeting.
Please feel free to document approaches to remote participation that you've had success with at your company (e.g. Webex, Google Hangouts).
- Regardless of which server backend platform is used, as WebRTC matures W3C will require it as one of the possible client interfaces.