Doing our work during the COVID-19 pandemic has compelled the CDC to learn and deploy online tools to meet with our colleagues and stakeholders. Please read and share the following information if it may be of use to you and your contacts.
We researched a number of online video conferencing and engagement platforms and opted to use ZOOM, whose technology is very robust, user-friendly, and affordable. You may wish to investigate other choices like Cisco’s Web-ex, Go-to Meeting, or others you will find in a Google Search for “Video Conferencing.”
I am sharing our experience with Zoom, the platform we chose. I cannot guarantee your experience with it will mirror ours.
The free version of Zoom allows unlimited one-to-one connectivity and group meetings that are limited to 40 minutes or less. Paid services begin at $20 CAD per month. For that fee, you can hold unlimited meetings of up to 24 hours for up to 100 participants. This subscription would likely suffice for most non-profit organizations, but for $27 CAD per month you can host up to 300 participants.
ZOOM works on Windows and Apple desktops and phone apps.
ZOOM will accommodate online learning programs. For example, the CDC successfully moved its Social Enterprise Bootcamp to ZOOM. In fact, this has been so successful, we will be considering ZOOM as an online learning platform post-COVID.
LEARN ABOUT ZOOM
ZOOM has many training resources, including live daily demos, scheduled webinars, on-demand training, and you can sign up for more helpful information.
TIPS FOR MEETING ORGANIZERS AND PARTICIPANTS
1. Meeting organizers and presenters: Share the meeting notice (with the Zoom link) and agenda as far in advance as possible, then resend the same info two days in advance (so people don’t have to hunt deep in their inbox for the notice).
You do have the option to require participants to register for the meeting/conference prior to the meeting. This ensures that only registered people can sign on. It does add a step to the process but if you are concerned about privacy, this feature will work for you.
2. If you are doing a presentation with slides, or if you want to show a video or demonstrate an application, do a test-run a couple of days before the meeting. Make sure to close all unnecessary files and browser tabs so that your desktop is not cluttered with distractions. When testing, assess the readability of your slides and the audio and visual elements of the video(s) you want to show. If you want to show a document, make sure you enlarge it so that it is readable (considering that some may be viewing the presentation on a mobile screen).
3. Begin larger meetings by going over the functionality that users need to know, such as:
4. Consider having more than one presenter or meeting leader to avoid monotony. More voices make the content more accessible.
5. Participants should be encouraged to keep their comments to-the-point.
6. Your video will not only show you, it will show what’s behind you. Make sure you know what your audience can see in your background!
7. Keep your audio muted at all times except for when you want to speak. And then mute yourself when you have said your piece.
If you have other tips or info about working online, please leave them in a comment below.