Online SIG meetings using Google Meet

Fuelrefuel / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

The committee has homed in on Google G-Suite Meet as the platform to support for SIG meetings. The club has a Not For Profit corporate account with Google, this gives us access to G-Suite for NFPs. Google Meet does not require any app to be downloaded and installed, and places no limits on the duration of meeting. You are under no obligation to use this platform, but it is the one we will support you with.

Your SIG convener should contact you via email and/or the SIG’s web page with a link to the meeting. It will be of the form https://meet.google.com/aaa-bbbb-aaa where the aaa etc are 3/4/3 random letters that uniquely identify the meeting. All you have to do is click/tap the link a few minutes before the meeting starts, then ask to join. Your SIG should be able to use the same link for all future meetings.

As a SIG leader you should have applied for and received a log-in for Google G-Suite Meet, consisting of an email address and password. If not, please contact iHelp. The video below shows you how to set up a meeting page. Once you have the link for that page it will exist forever. That means you can (and should, so your SIG members know where to go) re-use the same one for subsequent meetings of that SIG.

Use a headset in preference to loudspeakers. Speakers can easily cause problems with long feedback loops. If a feedback loop starts, with a click or sound that circulates every few hundred mS or more, getting louder each time, there may be no option but for the “moderator” to mute all microphones. The moderator can mute mics but not unmute, so you could wind up not being heard when you want to say something.

A headset also helps isolate you from noises around you, and stay focussed on the meeting.

Use a proper computer if you can. You may get by with a tablet or smartphone, but you will find it easier to use a laptop or desktop – especially if you are leading or presenting.

Be prepared. Preparation and tech rehearsal are key to a smooth event. If you have a presentation, you absolutely should practice beforehand. Google Meet lets you share your screen, and on Windows (at least, not 100% sure of other platforms) lets you share one specific window. So you could for example pre-prepare a Powerpoint, or some Arduino code you want to share, or a family tree, and have them open but hidden, ready to switch to when you are want to share.

Be in a quiet room. We don’t need to hear what’s on your TV, or the clatter of your better half clearing the dish washer. If you can’t avoid background noise, mute your microphone – just remember to unmute if you want to talk.

Consider the lighting. A bright light behind you will make you look terrible. Eye glasses can produce distracting reflections. I suggest you experiment with a webcam app ahead of time to get the best possible result. You might also try to arrange a camera angle where we don’t all look up your nose.

Do you have a poor Internet connection? If your Internet connection bandwidth is poor, you have 2 choices: Turn off your camera to save outgoing bandwidth, of chose to participate with audio only over the phone. The initial dialogue when you join the meeting provides a phone number and PIN to access the meeting audio. You can also do this during the meeting through the settings menu.

This article is quite informative about Google Meet. It is written around the newly-upgraded free service, but still contains useful information.

Please remember: We are all in uncharted territory here. We are all learning. Be tolerant of glitches and snafus.