Online Meetings Guide

Meetings Using Skype

Note: In the name of Anonymity Do Not use a skype account or set up a skype account username using your full name as the id or username.

OVERVIEW Skype is the Internet phone service that enables free calls from computer-to-computer, with Skype-enabled mobile phones or VoIP handsets. Some members of the fellowship have expressed an interest in using Skype to establish ‘virtual’ meetings to support people unable to attend meetings in person due to distance or other commitments.

INSTALLATION Skype is available as a free software download. Up to nine people can partake in a conference call using the latest Mac version 2.7 or PC version 3.6. Apparently, Skype for Linux is capable of 25 users on a conference call. Popular platform and mobile device installers can be downloaded here: Skype Installers

ACCOUNT SET-UP CONSIDERATIONS You will need to set up a user name for your Skype account. Skype requests a valid e-mail address, but you are never sent any unsolicited mail. Other details are requested to present a user profile that can be viewed by other Skype users, but providing this information is optional. For those with an existing Skype account, your current profile details may disclose more than you would be comfortable with being viewable to other fellowship members. You can edit your profile to remove sensitive information to protect your privacy. Alternatively, it may be more convenient to create a new Skype account with a different user name and then ignore adding the optional information that defines the user profile. The visibility of profile information may not be an issue for everyone, but it is something users should be aware of. Skype does have the facility for video as well as audio. However, it is unlikely the video will function on conference calls due to bandwidth limitations. Adding an image to your profile is probably a better option for recognition purposes. Those unfamiliar with Skype should test it out by making a one-to-one call with another fellowship member or a friend. The basics are:

1. Ask your contact for their Skype name and arrange a time to both be on-line.

2. Log in to Skype and add the name as a contact. This will only work if you are both on-line at the same time. See next step.

3. When Skype prompts you to send a brief message, do so. This allows the contact to acknowledge your request and accept communication from you. They will also get your user name so, if it is obscure, remind the person who you are in the message you send.

4. Once accepted, their name appears listed in green (rather than grey) and you can attempt to call them. If the name remains grey with a question mark icon, the attempt to add them as a contact has been unsuccessful (any names in grey with an ‘x’ are contacts that are off-line, but successfully added).

5. To make the request again, right click (Mac users: Control click) on the name with the question mark and from the list choose ‘Request Contact Details’. Use this as an opportunity to remind the person who you are in your request message by typing in additional information and, if they are on-line, they will receive another request to accept you as a contact.

6. Remember: contacts cannot be added if the person is off-line and, no matter how many requests you send when the contact is off-line, they will not receive any of these ‘off-line’ request notifications when they next appear on-line with Skype. Adding a contact is a one-to-one process, requiring both users to be on-line to enable mutual authorisation. For more operational information go to: Skype Features

CONFERENCE CALLS User information available from the links below. Skype is platform independent, i.e. Macs, PCs and Linux machines can talk to each other. Go to: Mac Skype Conferencing Windows Go to: Windows Skype Conferencing

Briefly, you need to have one person established as the Skype contact holding the conference call. They decide who can join the conference call. This contact could effectively be the chair of the virtual meeting who can be a single point of contact for all others to ‘call’ and then be allowed access to join the conference. This way, all other members only need to know one contact name to get the meeting going.

AUDIO Your computer will need a microphone – these tend to be built-in on laptops. However, typing will be picked up by laptop mics, as well as fan noise. So an external microphone may be preferable in some cases and will be required on most desktop computers. Apple iMacs have a built-in microphone which should be suitable. The audio experience will also be smoother if people use headphones. Relying on speakers usually results in those speaking hearing echoes of themselves from the speakers of other users which is picked up by their microphones and is then fed back. It is very distracting. If you don’t have headphones available, reduce the volume of your speakers to as low as is practicable.

OTHER ISSUES Given the detached way a computer-based meeting is likely to feel, consider starting the meeting with all attendees viewing the Twelve Steps and Traditions as a point of focus. Go to: 12 Steps & Traditions Skype meetings are only going to work if people have previously tested their audio set-ups and have familiarised themselves with the way Skype works.

A little time before the meeting starts should be allowed to ensure all attending can be heard clearly. However, a meeting should not be dogged by users requesting technical support when a meeting is in progress. People will need to attend (appear on-line and ‘visible’) at arranged times and have the relevant ‘chair’ contact information for the session. With only nine people able to attend at a time, if oversubscribed, it is possible to run additional meetings simultaneously (with another chair Skype contact), or stagger them at different times.

Obviously, those first to appear will have priority. Given that Skype works very well when only one person is talking at a time, it is well-suited to fellowship meetings. However, the success of the virtual meeting depends solely on the willingness of all those interested to keep coming back.
Note: In the name of Anonymity Do Not use a skype account or set up a skype account username using your full name as the id or username.