Managing Virtual Meetings and Public Participation
Guidance and Best Practices
Remote access to public meetings with multiple participants/attendees should be administered by a staff or commission member separate from the meeting chair, in order to manage muting/unmuting, screen sharing, fielding public comments and making materials available to meeting participants.
Salt Lake City Engagement Team's Best Practices for Engagement in the Time of COVID
MAPC's Extensive Guide to Conducting Public Meetings Online
Lessons learned, guidance, and considerations re using Zoom for public meetings- Providence, RI City Clerk Shawn Selleck
Guidance on choosing a technology developed by Upstate NY Chapter VP Sean McGuire
Zoom Guide from Kansas State University
Guidance materials from Toole Design Group- makes recommendations re use of Zoom (online meetings/virtual open houses) and Mentimeter (live online polling).
Sample instructions from Town using Zoom Webinar for public meetings and Zoom meetings for internal meetings
Tips from GoToMeeting to troubleshoot disruptions.
Best for: Simple conference calls with few participants
Cost: Free for up to 1000 participants, charges for additional features and cloud storage
Available features: Conference call, video/screen sharing, audio controls to allow open audio, lecture, recordings and Q&A
Best for: Meetings that would normally be held as public meetings, with agendas and action items that need to be carefully managed.
Features: Same as freeconferencecall plus in-meeting polling and "breakout rooms" (meeting splits into subgroups). Higher memberships offer auto-transcription and cloud storage
Cost: Pro account is $15/month and allows up to 100 participants. Business account is $200/month but includes 10 hosts and advanced features such as cloud storage and auto-transcription.
Best for: Conducting public meetings when more than a handful of members of the public will attend and potentially provide comment.
Features: Enables different settings for "presenters" (i.e. commissioners and staff) and "participants" i.e. members of the public to enable high-quality presentation of materials and manage public comment process. Public comment may be via chat and/or open voice or "raise hand" process. Integrated streaming with Facebook Live and Youtube.
Cost: Add-on to Zoom Pro membership is $40/mo allowing 100 interactive participants, $140/mo allowing 500 interactive participants.
Best for: conducting public meetings and maintaining a public record. CCM staff advises gotomeeting is probably the best solution for most users.
Features: Features of freeconferencecall.com plus cloud storage and auto-transcription. Does not have polling features that zoom has or a raise hand/Q&A mode
Cost: $19/month (Business) allows 250 participants. Gotowebinar companion product allows up to 1000 participants in an interactive format.
Tips: If you're going to purchase a Business membership, do not activate the entry-level free trial, it will lock you in at that level (lesson learned 3/17/2020)
Contender for public meetings. Allows recording, transcription, 2-way communication. Hard cap at 250 users.
Potential solution for very large public meetings. Per CCM call 3/25- the State of CT is using Microsoft Teams because it is "Government Certified" i.e. already meets various legal and privacy tests. Allows large meetings and recordings. More complicated to use-- would likely need IT support.