TENET recently helped our friends at North-West University (NWU) to put on a large event on the subject of computational and digital capacity building among researchers and research support staff with overseas speakers and many participants across a range of institutions in South Africa. Following the meeting, we have pulled together these pointers to help you if you are thinking of doing something similar.
Before the event
Here are some of the key things to do before your event:
- Start your planning in plenty of time.
- Send an email to email@example.com with an outline of your event and the people you want to connect up.
- Reach out to your IT and videoconferencing support people at your institution and involve them early on in the planning of the event
- One issue to check early on is that the relevant firewall ports have been opened at the participating institutions – see this page to see what needs to be done
- Think through the sort of event you are intending to hold. Is this going to be a webinar type event with speakers mostly imparting information with maybe a Q&A to finish, or more of a workshop or discussion with the emphasis on debate and sharing ideas? Or a training event with instructor led sessions and more engagement from the students?
- Brief your remote speakers – make sure that they have a device that they can use to join the meeting and that they have tested it in the setting in which they will use it on the day in good time
- Check out your venues – how will you display video and play audio and allow interaction at venues where groups of people will gather? You may need roving mics if you want an interactive Q&A type session, and are in a big venue
- Schedule a test session – ideally you want everyone to be in the same place and using the same equipment as they will use on the day. Run through the programme and write down a running order and a cue list listing who will speak when, and what needs to happen (presentations, a movie, etc)
- Get your speakers to submit copies of their presentations in advance – store these in a shared area on GoogleDrive or Dropbox, etc. Fumbling for these in email attachments when they are needed is not recommended!
- Set up a WhatsApp group for the lead people at each site and technical support people to enable communication when all else fails.
- Send out a meeting invitation from VidyoDesktop to all participants. Makes sure you set a Moderator PIN on the meeting room your re using, as this will enable others to control the meeting, if needed.
- Have a back up plan to connect in the event of a connection failure – a 3G Dongle of smart phone set up as a hotspot. Test these beforehand
During the event
- Get people to check in and say hello from the remote sites – allow time in the programme for this. This will also be an opportunity to test sound levels for a later Q&A if that is what is planned
- Have a second back-up chair for the meeting at a remote location who can take over running the meeting if the main site goes off-line. The back-up chair needs to be logged into Vidyo on the same Tenant as the main chair to be able to access the control meeting interface
- Consider using “Presenter Mode” in Vidyo – this mutes all except the speaker’s video and audio
- If using the Mute option in the Manage Meeting screen, use soft rather than hard mute for preference
- Inform participants that the meeting will be recorded (if applicable) and ask those who do not want to be in camera or be heard to get out of shot or mute their video and audio
- Turn off the option to have sounds play when people enter and leave the meeting room
See other pages on this site for access to documentation on running meetings in Vidyo
After the event
- Send feedback to TENET detailing the good, the bad and the ugly about the experience
- Send an evaluation form to your participants asking them for their views
- Write up your experiences in a blog post or similar
- Download the recording from the VidyoReplay server and make it available as appropriate
North-West University is collaborating with other organisations like UCT, Software & Data Carpentry, RDA & CODATA to offer a series of activities to better equip researchers to handle the data that their work generates. See:
for more information