Big Blue Button

Participant Prep

Preparing for Video Conferencing on BigBlueButton
Testing Your Equipment Before the Event

Go to the BigBlueButton test site to test your browser and equipment:

  • Check to make sure headset and mic works
  • Check your internet connection

The BigBlueButton room runs in the internet browser window and works best with Google Chrome and Firefox

Joining the Meeting

  • Open the event link in Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox
  • Put your name in the box and click join
  • When prompted “How would you like to join the audio?” select JOIN WITH MICROPHONE

join with mic

  • Do the echo test to ensure your microphone and speakers are configured correctly

echo test

  • It is recommended to mute your microphone in meetings when you are not speaking, so that background noise does not disrupt the meeting. If the room does not automatically mute users upon entry, click the mic button at the bottom of the screen. You can also click on your user name and select mute.
  • Put your name and affiliation in the shared notes on the left side bar

shared notes

Participating in the Meeting

Unmute to speak

  • If you want to speak, click on the mic button at the bottom of the screen or click your user name and select unmute in the User list on the left side of the screen

Turn on webcam

  • If you want to join the meeting with video, select the camera icon at the bottom of the screen

share webcam

  • Give your browser permission to access your webcam when the permission request pops up

webcam permissions

Start a private chat

  • Click on the users name in the user list and select START A PRIVATE CHAT

start private chat

  • The private chat can be accessed under the public chat tab on the left side

start private chat part 2

Use public chat

  • The public chat is the first thing visible in the left pane when you log onto the BigBlueButton meeting
  • Any public conversations that occurred before you joined the meeting will be above the welcome box in the public chat
  • Public chat can be downloaded by an individual for later reference. You may save the public chat by clicking on the three dots in the the upper corner of the public chat panel. A pop-up menu will appear with the options to Save, Copy or Clear. Choose the Save option to download a text file of the chat messages to your computer. Select Copy if you want to copy the chat messages to another program you choose. In most IEEE SA OPEN advisory group meetings and events, events, we do not download the chat contents for sharing. If there is information you would like to be available for later reference, please place it in the shared notes.

Collaborate in shared notes

  • Any user in the meeting can write on the shared notes pad
  • Open shared notes and type in the window

shared notes

  • The user name does not appear next to the text that each person types. If you want your name attached to what you contribute in the notes, you will need to put your name in the text
  • If you would like to maintain a copy of the Shared Notes, they can be downloaded. Pick the download option (document with a down arrow). A pop up menu will show options for file download. These include Etherpad, HTML, Plain Text, Microsoft Word, PDF or ODF (Open Document Format). (Please note that Shared Notes download are different from Public Chat downloads.)
  • shared notes download

Conferencing etiquette

  • Choose a quiet location without distractions
  • Use a headset to eliminate background noise and feedback that your microphone picks up
  • If you have your webcam turned on and do not have a virtual background in place, sit in a place that has a background you are okay with other people seeing. If you would like to use a virtual background, there are a few options available including a blur background option. There is currently no support for your own image upload.
  • Stay muted when you are not speaking to prevent background noise and feedback

Big Blue Button FAQ

Why am I having difficulty connecting after I try to join the meeting?

VPNs often prevent BigBlueButton from connecting properly. Try turning off the VPN and reconnecting.

BigBlueButton works best in Chrome and Firefox browsers. Try using one of these browsers and make sure you approve permissions for it to access your microphone and webcam when your browser asks for permissions.

Why is my audio not connecting?

If you selected join with MICROPHONE, then make sure you gave permission for BigBlueButton to access your microphone in your browser. Your browser will give you a prompt window, asking if you want to grant permissions.

Why won’t my video connect?

Make sure you grant BigBlueButton access to your webcam when your browser prompts you to give permission. If that does not work, try leaving the meeting and reconnecting.

Why is there no microphone button for me to speak?

If there is a picture of headphones on your user icon in the User list on the left side, you are in listen only mode. You will also see a pair of buttons at the bottom of the main screen, a headphone button and a video button, to share your webcam.

listen only mode

To leave the meeting and rejoin it with a microphone option, click on the headphone button at the bottom of your screen. The hover message will say Leave audio. Once you leave audio, a microphone button with a slash through it, will replace the headphone button. Click on that microphone button to rejoin the meeting. A pop up screen will now give you the option to join with a microphone. Click on microphone on that screen to rejoin the meeting, after a brief echo test of your equipment.

join audio with mic from listen only mode

How do I improve unclear audio?

If there is lag in video or audio, or a lack of clarity in audio, you may be having internet connection or speed issues. First, check the connection status button in the upper right. Detailed connection information is available by clicking on the button, and the application indicates good or poor connectivity by changing the color of the button. Green for good. Red for poor.

connection status

If you have poor connectivity or continue to have difficulties, first, try turning your webcam off.

If this does not solve the issue, BigBlueButton has additional data saving measures to improve call clarity. Click on the three dot hamburger menu at the top right of your screen and go to settings. Select DATA SAVINGS and turn off "enable webcams". This will cause your computer to no longer display other's webcams. You can also turn off "enable desktop sharing" to further decrease the load on your connection.

data settings

If you do not believe you are having an internet issue, you may try changing your audio device. BigBlueButton makes this simple. Go to the speaker button (in microphone mode or the headset button (in listen-only mode). There is an arrow (^) in a white circle. Click on this symbol to activate a menu that allows you to change your audio devices, and choose a new device for your speakers (in both modes) or your microphone (only in microphone mode).

audio device options

Facilitator Guide

Leading Conferencing Rooms on BBB

Purpose: Breakout rooms are a time for event attendees to collaborate. It is a working session. Sessions are led by a facilitator, but do not follow a structured agenda.

Welcome attendees into the room, remind people to join with the audio microphone icon, not the headset (listen only) icon. If a person has an icon with a headset next to their name, they have joined via listen only.

Ask users to close the main meeting hall BBB tab in their browser while they are in the breakout room. As the facilitator, please make sure you also do this. Audio from any other open BBB meeting rooms in other tabs will come through the users computer audio and it will be heard in the breakout room.

Breakout rooms may be recorded. Prior to the beginning of recording, the facilitator should notify the attendees that the session will be recorded. If people do not want to be visible in the recording, they should turn off their video. The recording will only record user webcam video and audio input during the session. Recordings will not capture presentations, shared screens, public or private chats, or shared notes.

At the end of the breakout session, post the link to the main hall in the public chat so attendees can navigate back to the main room. Remind people to close the current meeting room window tab in their browser.

Copy the notes from the shared notes section and send them to the appropriate person for posting to the Gitlab group.


Mute a user

If you need to mute a user because of background noise from their mic, click on their name in the participant list. Select MUTE USER in the list

mute user

Mute all users

If you need to mute all users or all users except the presenter, click the settings icon above the user list and select either MUTE ALL USERS or MUTE ALL USERS EXCEPT PRESENTER

mute all users

Tell users how to switch from listen only to audio

If a user is in listen only, instruct them to:

  • Leave the audio conference by clicking on the blue headphone button on the bottom of their screen
  • Join the audio conference again by clicking the same button, that now has a picture of a white phone with a line through it and says "Join Audio" when the mouse hovers over it

rejoin audio

  • When prompted on how they would like to join audio, select the "microphone" icon

join with mic

  • Complete the echo test when prompted and they will be added back into the audio conferencing in the room

echo test

Share your screen

To share your screen with attendees:

  • Click on the round button at the bottom of the screen on the right side of the button row, with the white picture of the monitor with a line through icon

share your screen

  • When prompted by the pop up window, select the picture of the screen you want to share (there may be more than one if you are using multiple monitors) click SHARE

share your screen step 2

  • To stop sharing your screen, click STOP SHARING on the bar at the bottom of your shared screen

stop sharing screen

If a participant wants to share their screen

  • Give them presenter mode by clicking on the user's name on the attendee list and select MAKE PRESENTER

presenter given screen

  • The user with presenter status will have the presenter icon on their username icon

presenter icon

  • After the user is done presenting, click on your name in the user list and select TAKE PRESENTER

presenter take back

Create a Poll

  • When you have presenter status, you can create a poll by clicking on the plus sign button on the left side of the bottom bar. Select "Start a Poll"

start a poll

  • Use the pane that pops up on the left side to create the poll questions and response options

poll setup

After users vote, it will publish results on the current presentation slide. Results are displayed as totals. The presenter can see individual responses from users as they come in, but the final displayed poll is an anonymous total and does not identify how individual users voted.

Start an interactive multi-user whiteboard
In presenter mode, you can write on the whiteboard as part of a presentation or make it a shared whiteboard so all users can collaborate and write/type on it. Steps:

  • Start the whiteboard by progressing the presentation slides forward until you come to a blank slide

whiteboard start

  • Click on the picture of the white board icon at the bottom of the editing toolbar on the right side of the slide, it will say "turn on multi-user whiteboard" when you hover your mouse over it. The icon will show two whiteboards after you click on it, indicating the whiteboard is interactive and all users can write on it.
  • Click on the hand at the top of the toolbar and select an editing tool to use

whiteboard use

To leave the white board so only the presenter can draw on it, turn off the multi-user whiteboard icon at the bottom of the editing toolbar and select the editing tools you want to use.

Removing people from the room

  • If you need to remove someone from the room or they need assistance leaving the room, click on the user's name on the attendee list and select REMOVE USER

remove user