Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, across mobile devices, desktops, and telephones.
The use of Zoom is encouraged by the Provincial Grand Master as a positive way to keep in touch with members of the Lodge. Its use is subject to the Provincial Social Media Guidelines, specifically with reference to content. It should not be used in a manner which might inadvertently 'bring Freemasonry into disrepute' or to promote any private pique or quarrel which may adversely affect the harmony of the Lodge.
The purpose of a Zoom meeting is to enable all members of the Lodge (subject to their being able and willing) to participate, and it is the Provincial Grand Master's express wish that no subscribing Brother be excluded by way of not being invited to a participation. However, in order to conform to the rules of GDPR (Data Protection), every subscribing member of the Lodge must be invited to join a Zoom, and not be included by default.
A Zoom meeting must not be used to bypass the Lodge Secretary in the proper discharge of his duties.
Getting the best from Zoom
How can I improve Zoom online meetings?
The speed of modern internet communication and the current Covid-19 pandemic have come together at a time that has made online meetings much more common than they were six months ago.
Added to this, a large number of the individuals now utilising any of the myriad systems available are new or very inexperienced users. Some of these individuals may find both the sound and picture quality is disappointing but there are some things that with a little bit of attention to detail can significantly improve matters.
Like any photograph or video, online images suffer badly from poor lighting. No-one expects BBC Studio quality imagery but there are a couple of things you may be able to do with no cost implications at all.
Avoid backlighting if possible. That means if your back is to the window and the curtains are open, your face will be in shadow. The same applies if you have artificial lighting behind you even if the curtains are shut.
So what can you do? I have the window blind next to my computer shut and a small table lamp on in front of me. It’s only one of my bedside lights temporarily relocated for the meeting and although it is not great lighting, at least I can be seen. Simply put, make sure your face is lit. It may be possible to turn your computer so it has its back to the light so you can use existing lighting to your advantage. A bit of trial and error will usually sort things out. As an aside it is worth checking out how your picture looks before you go ‘live’. Are you looking too close or too far away? Is there something distracting in the background that could easily be moved?
Likewise with sound. If you are using a headset there is not usually much of a problem with you being heard or you hearing. If, however, you are using a standalone webcam and microphone or ones built in to a desktop or laptop computer, then be aware they can very directional. If you are speaking, keep facing the screen and therefore the microphone.
Also make sure that when you are not speaking, even if you are in conversation with one other person, mute your microphone when any other person speaks. If you don’t, the other speaker's words will come out of your speakers and then be ‘echoed’ across all others listening and in turn ‘echoed’ by any of them that have not muted speech. I try keep my microphone muted at all times other than when I speak (usually!). If everyone used a headset that would cease to be an issue but they look awful and are not essential. I borrow my son’s Xbox headset when my boys are about, to reduce disturbance for them or by them.
Distractions. I also use a bit of an old dodge in putting the images of others as near to the webcam that I can to enable me to appear to be looking at speakers rather than off to one side or down or up too much etc. You can with practice get used to looking directly at the camera when someone else is speaking so to them you appear to be looking directly at them.
Families are great fun and provide a great distraction when they appear on camera unexpectedly so just enjoy the moment and don’t let it worry you. It doesn’t deter any of our best TV reporters when they are speaking from their homes.
I try and keep a drink close by right from the start but I have forgotten before and no doubt will again and nobody expects perfection.
If you have access to a printer you could print out the following and keep it by your screen as a reminder if you like.
1) Does the picture look right or is it back lit?
2) Am I too close (Nasal hair is never pretty!)?
3) Am I comfortable (too much wriggling is a bit distracting)?
4) Not speaking? Mute the microphone.
5) Relax and enjoy the meeting.