Maksim Pecherskiy and Julian Benabides
April 16, 2020
Last week, we wrote about how to run a remote council meeting. If you missed it, it’s definitely worth reading for context.
Due to the response we received, we figured we can expand on the topic and provide a checklist as you plan your remote council meetings.
We decided to do this work because so many of our members had questions about doing council meetings remotely. For city officials who wish to connect with other city leaders, we encourage you to join our free online community, UrbanLeague.
You can also download and print this checklist!
Roles and responsibilities
Technical and Logistics
[ ] Who are the presenting participants? (the people who will be speaking / leading the meeting?)
[ ] Council members
[ ] City Attorney
[ ] Clerk
[ ] Staff scheduled to speak for council items
[ ] Other________________
Understand who is responsible for everything on the backend, before, during, and after the meeting?
This person should be responsible for:
[ ] Recording the meeting and making that recording available after the meeting.
[ ] Setting up the registration page.
[ ] Managing the dry run.
[ ] Teaching the presenting participants how to use the technology.
[ ] Establishing the rules for the meeting.
Anything else behind the scenes.
A registration page is not necessary to do a virtual meeting, but we recommend it for two reasons. 1. It helps keep trolls out. 2. It keeps track of everyone in the meeting so you can send follow up emails with the recording, and with info about the next meeting.
If you’re unable to have a registration page, an alternative to keep your meetings safe is to have a waiting room. This is a virtual space where citizens will wait until the moderator allows them entrance to the meeting. It gives the moderator time to check that the person isn’t a troll.
[ ] The presenting participants are made clear on the registration page.
[ ] The agenda and topics for discussion are made clear on the registration page.
[ ] The registration page has accurate information and has been double checked.
[ ] Citizens can view and sign up for the registration page.
[ ] The email that citizens receive upon signing up at the registration page is informative, looks professional, and is typo-free.
[ ] You have tested the registration / email function.
[ ] Citizens receive an automated email reminder one week, one day, and one hour before the council meeting.
[ ] Citizens receive an email after the council meeting, telling them where to find the recording, and providing other valuable information.
We HIGHLY recommend doing a practice run before each meeting. Make sure you can do this without violating Sunshine Laws, such as California's Brown act.
[ ] All presenting participants have the necessary equipment (computer with functioning microphone and camera) as well as software that is downloaded and up to date. (You don’t want to start a meeting and find that you have to install something.)
[ ] Presenting participants can log in from their devices.
[ ] They can turn their mic on and off.
[ ] They can turn their video on and off.
[ ] Staff members can communicate 1:1 with the presenting participants.
[ ] It’s made clear how presenting participants can “raise their hand” when they want to speak.
[ ] Presenting participants understand how to screen share / show presentations.
[ ] Does public comment get read or simply added to the record?
[ ] Citizens can log into the webinar / remote council meeting by phone AND computer.
[ ] When citizens log in, their microphones and videos are automatically turned off, and can’t be turned on, unless the moderator allows it.
[ ] Citizens cannot engage with each other via the chat function. -Many trolls have used this feature to harass and derail city meetings.
[ ] Citizens can ask questions to the presenting participants. Many companies, such as Zoom, have a Q&A function where the questions are not visible to other guests, but only visible to the presenting participants / moderator.
[ ] The meeting is being recorded.
[ ] You have made it clear where the recording will be made available. (Youtube, Facebook, the city website?)
[ ] You understand who receives the recording first for transcription.
[ ] The rules for the council meeting are established, and someone is designated to explain these rules to the citizens at the start of the meeting. (These rules might be as simple as, “use the Q&A function if you have a question, the meeting is being recorded and will be made available, questions will be addressed in the last 30 minutes of the meeting, and the chat, video, and microphone features of the citizens have been disabled for the sake of keeping order in a remote meeting.)
[ ] The residents are able to submit public comments in advance of the session. What is the mechanism for them to do that?
[ ] The agenda has been communicated clearly before the meeting.
[ ] How does the posted meeting agenda translate to the virtual council meeting?
[ ] The meeting has been publicized and advertised.
You can also download and print this checklist
We hope this checklist was useful for you. Please let us know what you think, and if you’d like to join our online community of city leaders, please join UrbanLeague.Did we miss anything? Is there anything you’d like us to focus more on? Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.