Zoom for Online Mediation
Given that Online Mediation is going to be the reality for the foreseeable future, I have acquired Zoom Pro and undergone training in its use for mediation, as well working with it regularly for other purposes so as to familiarise myself with its operation and have found it simple and convenient.
Some people may be wary about using a new system to mediate, but from what I have seen, it lends itself very well to the process. I also have a lot of positive feedback from mediators who have used it already.
I am more than happy to host demonstrations of the software for anyone who would like to see it in action.
It is essentially video conferencing software, but with some extra features that make it very suitable for mediation – in particular the provision of “breakout rooms”. Once in a breakout room, the people in it cannot see or hear the other participants, and they cannot be seen or heard by others.
What do you need to do?
You can take part using any desktop, laptop, phone or tablet with a camera and microphone.
You do not need to install any software (unless using a mobile phone or an ipad when you will need to download the free Zoom App from whichever App Store your device supports). However before using either type of device, please read the Technical Issues section below.
I will host the meeting so you do not need to 'sign up' with Zoom. All that you need to do is to click on the link in the appointment email that I will send to you, where it says:
“Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/123456789” (this is just an example link and will not be the number that you will see)
Nothing will happen if you click on the link prior to the time set for the meeting, but if you click on it on or after the time, you will automatically join the meeting.
Also on that email there will be two attachments. One is named "invite.ics". If you open that you can save the invitation appointment into Google calendar (if you use it) or your regular calendar app (Outlook, Apple Calendar, etc.)
That is all that you need to do as regards getting into the meeting.
In advance of the meeting, I will have set up various "breakout rooms" for groups of people to meet in online over the course of the day. The main one for you will be for you and any of the other people in your team (solicitors, barristers, experts etc). That group is private and neither I nor any other participant can see or hear you. I will join your group from time to time during the day, but will either phone or text your lead representative to warn them that I am about to do so.
There will also be the facility for us all to be in the same "room" for any joint meetings – such as the initial presentation.
When you join the meeting you will need to accept Zoom’s terms and conditions, and you will be prompted to put in a name. This is what appears on my screen under your video so please make sure that you use the name that I have been given.
When you first join, you may be in the main “room” with all others present. If you do not want to see or speak to any of the others, you can turn off your mic or video or both.
I will then assign you to your various rooms. Accept the invitation to join the assigned room. There you will be able to see and speak to those who are with you for the day.
I control who is in each room. Other parties cannot join you unless I allow it and so what you say is confidential between your attendees only – unless of course I am also in the room!
I might suggest meetings between individuals from each party during the day. If this is agreed to, I will move the people concerned into a separate room.
If you leave the mediation you can rejoin by clicking on the link in the original invitation email that I sent to you. The same thing applies if a technical glitch causes the connection to crash.
If there are technical problems, feel free to ring me on my mobile 07714 522025.
Also, if you need to contact me at any time during the mediation, you can hit one of the “reactions icons” on the right of the tool bar at the foot of your screen. I may miss this though, so the alternative is to phone me, although if I am talking to others at the time, I may not be able to answer. The other option would be to text me.
- You will need a broadband or 4G connection.
- Remember that if you connect by 4G rather than broadband you may be charged based upon your data package with your provider. Some broadband users may also have data limits beyond which they will be charged.
- You should use a device with as large a screen as possible. Tablets or phones work (with the free app downloaded), but if there are a number of people in the mediation, seeing all of them on a small screen is less easy.
- It is possible to connect via Polycom/Cisco or other large room video conferencing devices – we should trial this before the mediation though. Since I suspect most people are likely to be connecting from home, this is not likely to be much of an issue.
- When Zoom is on and you are connected, there will be icons at the bottom of your screen. In the bottom left for example you will see a microphone icon and a video camera icon. You can turn off your camera or microphone (or both) and when you do, both the camera will stop and you will be muted as far as everyone else is concerned.
- You can also use the arrows to the right of each of those icons to test and/or vary some of the settings for sound and video, and to test your microphone and video.
Tips for the day.
- This is not the same as a face to face meeting. There will be other distractions during the day.
- Whilst you and your team can and should discuss things amongst yourselves as regards the mediation, there will be occasions when you want/need to do other stuff.
- To make the process work, all that I ask is that you are always somewhere close to your device/screen and that you can be contacted by text or phone call if needed.
- Make sure that whatever device you are using to join the meeting is plugged in to a charging facility. You do not want to run out of battery during the meeting.
- I would ask that when we are in a meeting together, all mobiles are switched to “silent”.
- Also, please do not use the device you are using for the meeting (or any other device), to deal with any other business or social matters during any meeting – whether with me or with others. It is very distracting and likely to annoy others taking part in the meeting. There will be time when I am with the other party\ies for that to be done.
- Try not to interrupt others when they are talking. The system can deal with it, but sometimes it causes audio glitches and what is being said cannot be heard.