When virtual public meetings went from “virtually” unheard of to the norm for many communities, some officials were concerned that attendance might dip. Luckily, the opposite happened! Many residents who previously couldn’t attend are now able to easily make meetings with the click of a button. To help better serve every resident, we’ve put together a list of ways to improve the attendee experience and boost engagement.
1. Do a test run
Presenters who are working—and viewing—from home create more opportunities for technical glitches from software issues or spotty wi-fi. Before any major meeting, do a test run to ensure all presenters can log in, hear and run their part of the presentation. Have them sit with a light source above or in front of them, so they don’t appear backlit. A desk lamp is a useful giveaway to help illuminate their face. Ear buds can make it easier to hear clearly.
2. Promote meetings
Whether your meetings are online or a hybrid of in-person and online, make residents aware of the changes. A postcard with a magnet is an effective way to share meeting times and log-in information as well as any social media platforms residents can follow to stay up to date on upcoming meetings and agenda items.
3. Be early
Since most meetings can’t start until the organizer is logged in, having the host log in 15 minutes early ensures attendees know they’re in the right spot. Use a chat window or slide to share the agenda or any other supporting documents attendees can view while they wait.
4. Make discussion easy
People frequently come to meetings not just to learn, but to be heard. Allow everyone to share their thoughts with these helpful tips for virtual meetings:
- Place everyone on mute when they enter the “room.” This ensures people won’t talk over one another or inadvertently create a distraction by leaving their mic open.
- Create a chat window for people to add comments and questions to be answered either during the meeting or at a later time.
- Require attendees to sign up to speak in set timeslots to make sure the meeting keeps to an agenda and doesn’t run over.
- Provide a comment space or email address for people to contribute thoughts and ideas. Offer a useful giveaway, like a webcam cover or a mobile safety kit, to say thanks for contributing.
5. Keep meetings secure
Password-protecting your meetings helps prevent outsiders from taking over or preventing your meeting from occurring. Keep password safety guidelines in mind, like never sharing via email and only giving it to a handful of staff.
Get more engagement
Virtual public meetings provide everyone with opportunities to learn about their community. And raising their engagement will make every meeting—and your community—better.