Best Practise for
On-line Dhamma events
We too are new to practicing Dhamma on-line. This is a summary of what we have learnt so far.
Respectful Attitude: It enhances both your experience and that of the others attending, if you show the same respect as you would when attending a normal Dhamma event. Try not to arrive late, leave early, or, during the event, check your messages, chat with someone, or wander off to make tea, etc. Have your video on, so you can be seen, unless your connection prevents this. Dress modestly, particularly if the event is led by a monk or nun. Ensure your name is shown, not simply the name of your device. This can be changed if you click on the name in 'participants'.
Setting up your device. You can use a laptop, computer (preferably one with a camera), a tablet or a smartphone. Place it at eye height so you can look at it when sitting in your meditation posture, and place it away from you so that your face is not looming down and into it when you speak. To allow this you will probably need to turn up the microphone. On your device this is different to the 'volume' which controls the sound you are listening to. It is usually in 'settings' under 'sound' and 'microphone' and you may first have to switch off 'automatic' which allows your device to choose the microphone level. It is also possible to do this through the Zoom controls, under audio.
Choose a pleasant background, maybe your shrine, and ensure your face is lit, so that when you speak, you do not look like Darth Vader. You can check how you look before hand, by using the camera on your device and putting it on reverse.
You can opt to use a headset with microphone plugged into you device. This will ensure that noises you make, like adjusting your position, are not broadcast. It may also improve the sound you hear and, nearly certainly, it will improve the sound others hear when you speak. Cheap small ones with button headphones and a mike on the lead are more than adequate and look nicer on you than a large set. If you are hosting an event we strongly recommend using a headset.
Internet Connection. Ensure you have an adequate connection. The demand for internet bandwidth is now intense with everyone at home, and there is competition for it, which will come and go in intensity at different times of the day. The better your connection the less vulnerable you will be to this. Turning off other applications that are running on your device will help with this, as will turning off other devices using the same modem. On internet packages upload speed is usually much slower than download speed. So the first thing to be affected is your image and voice, not what you are receiving. You can improve your bandwidth by getting nearer to your WiFi source. You can improve it further with a plug in connection to your modem. If your connection is unreliable over the internet you can supplement your connection by using a telephone at the same time to connect to the event. The Irish phone numbers provided by Zoom are Dublin 01 numbers and one 06 number, which we give on each event listing. Your landline package may include free calls to these numbers. If you do this, you will have to first turn off both the sound and microphone on your device to prevent feed-back.
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Connecting by Telephone Line
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If you are on a mobile or tablet then you need to download the Zoom app first. For computers and tablets you connect via a search engine. Open a free account. Enhance your experience by learning how to use Zoom, for which Zoom provide tutorials. For joining a Dhamma event all you need to know is how to turn your microphone and camera on and off, mute and un-mute your own microphone, switch from single user to gallery view, raise your hand to show you have a question and, if you like that kind of thing, give a 'thumbs up' and 'clap'.
In Dhamma events you have to be particularly careful about accidentally un-muting your microphone, or joining an event, other than a discussion, with your microphone on. Every noise you make: shuffling, adjusting your position, your dog or child making a noise in the house, will be broadcast to everyone else - who may all be sitting in silent meditation. The host can press 'mute all' to silence everyone except the speaker or the meditation room and we can set an event so that everyone is automatically muted when they join, but we can not chose the option to prevent people un-muting or then the teacher is muted. It is easy to accidentally un-mute yourself, particularly when joining.
When speaking we all need to be careful to let someone finish what they are saying first, because of the slight time delay. If you speak their microphone is then cut off. This aspect of the experience is very good for making 'chatting' a mindful experience.
Hosting: We need help with hosting our events but for that you need more Zoom skills and to be using a laptop or computer to have access to all the controls. If you would like to help with this, then please let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org. It would make it much easier for us, if first you train yourself using the Zoom tutorials so you have a reasonable idea of what to do and how to do it when hosting. This includes breaking out groups for private meetings (needed by teachers) and the 'share' facility to send a text file with the words for chanting, or playing a recorded talk.