Mediator Tip #1: Set Up and Utilize Your Waiting Room Effectively
Personalize your Waiting Room. The Waiting Room in Zoom has a default message which is not particularly personal or welcoming. If you explore the Settings tab, you can change the Waiting Room message and upload a logo or photo. For many mediation participants, your Waiting Room is their first contact with you. Incorporate a personal message that confirms they are in the right place and that you will be checking in with them shortly.
Use the Waiting Room as a Default to Keep your Mediations Secure. By now, everyone has heard about Zoom Bombing and uninvited guests appearing in public Zoom meetings and causing difficulties. With your Waiting Room enabled by default, no one can enter the meeting unless you admit them. This becomes the mediator’s bomb-proof method to screen admission, one participant at a time.
Use the Waiting Room to Check Connections and Rename Participants. Before the mediation begins, I like to admit people from the Waiting Room individually or in small groups (such as the Plaintiff and his or her counsel). By admitting participants selectively, you can check ahead of time to make sure that internet signal strength is appropriate, and both video and audio are functioning correctly.
You can also use this time to rename participants with their full names, using the “. . .” tab at the top right of each participant’s photo. This will help you and the other mediation participants identify each other when the Main Session starts. It will also help you assign the right people to the right Breakout Rooms.
After Connections and Names are All Set, Return Participants to the Waiting Room. If you have confirmed that admitted participants are properly connected and named, you can again use the “. . .” tab at the top right of each photo to return a participant to the Waiting Room, explaining that you need to check in on other participants. You can then repeat this process for the remaining participants, while avoiding putting adversaries into the Main Session together.
Use Waiting Room Time to Populate Breakout Rooms. As soon as a participant enters the Waiting Room, you have the option to assign them to a pre-designated Breakout Room. I like to set up my Breakout Rooms well before participants join in. As they enter the Waiting Room, I start assigning them to the correct Breakout Room. Do not open the Breakout Rooms at this juncture. If you continue to populate the Breakout Rooms as each participant signs in, you will be ready to proceed smoothly to opening the Breakout Rooms when the Main Session is over.
Admit Everyone Back from the Waiting Room when you are Ready to Start the Main Session. Once everyone has joined the meeting, you have checked connections, fixed any names and populated (but not opened) the Breakout Rooms, you can hit “Admit All” to bring everyone into the Main Session and begin the mediation.
For more articles on Mediation, check out Greg's blog, Thoughts on Mediation
Originally published, April 24, 2020, on LinkedIn.
About the Blogger:
Gregory S. Clayton is a full-time mediator based in Camden, who mediates throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. He is a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
He may be contacted by email or at (207) 706 4977. CLAYTON MEDIATION, LLC