Virtual Council Meetings: weeknote, w/c 20.04.2020

Kermit the Frog, a puppet, waving his arms around in a wild fashion.
How I feel on the inside.

It’s been our most intense week so far. We delivered three virtual council meetings in 48 hours. This included a special session of Cabinet on the borough’s COVID response and a planning sub committee with 80 attendees. 

The tech is holding up incredibly well. The grid feature in GoogleMeet is invaluable and the native recording feature is user friendly. The new meeting protocols are proving successful, supported by tech checks, pre-briefings and role plays. Chairs and clerks are doing a really good job of communicating expectations and supporting attendees to participate effectively. 

Key learnings to build on for our next round of meetings:

  • Time box meetings 
  • Limit the number of agenda items
  • Build in short adjournments for comfort breaks

Connection issues are a niggle, with home wifi failing some attendees. Camera etiquette has been a mixed bag. It’s really hard for attendees to remember that what they do on camera can be viewed by everyone, especially 2 hours into a meeting when we all start getting tired. I’m really keen that we help attendees to maintain their privacy, safeguard their family members (including beloved pets) and avoid doing something a bit silly while on camera. So I cobbled together HackIT’s first unofficial guide to being camera ready – a light hearted take on how to look one’s best on camera. 

We have also been testing live streaming options. We’re working closely with colleagues at Kingston and Sutton, another Council that uses G Suite and chromebooks. We are testing Stage 10 (browser based) and Kingston are testing OBS (download). Our biggest challenge is to find a solution that can be used easily by Governance teams. As we scale up the number of meetings, the solution needs to be sustainable, which means teams can self serve with minimal ongoing input from IT colleagues. 

Next week: a closer look at the user needs for Commission meetings, more live stream testing, collating feedback from our first four meetings for a wider group of stakeholders and some early prep for the next set of committee meetings in mid-May. 

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