How NOT to run a Zoom (or other online) meeting
I have been using zoom to run live online remote pitch sessions for more than 5 years. And lately, lots of other similar meetings have gone online from lots of other folks. Here are my suggestions to those of you who do this:
DO NOT use the webinar presentation mode: If I wanted to watch a video of your folks talking, answer polls, and text in questions, I could do it non-live. Just record the whole thing. What's the whole point of LIVE?
DO NOT control the mute: If you have a community that you want to be part of, muting people means you don't trust them to control themselves. Of course if you want to mute someone, you can. One at a time if they become a problem. Instead, tell them to mute themselves when not talking and to be polite.
DO NOT limit the ability to chat and see who else is there: I want to know who I am meeting with and be able to get in touch with them - individually - by name without you controlling it.
DO NOT prevent people from showing themselves - or force them to do so: If you want them not to show themselves, tell them you don't want them to and tell them why. I like to tell them that it takes excess bandwidth and reduces presentation quality. So only share when you are talking or presenting. And then only if you want to.
DO NOT use technology against your attendees: I like to run a tight ship and go through things at the planned pace. I control the times for people to talk and the sequence of things, etc. But I don't do it with technology. I do it with personality and a social compact with the attendees.
DO NOT use the multiple step process for sending out a meeting ID: It is inconvenient, turns one step into more steps, slows and complicated getting into the meeting, and makes it harder for people to attend (and rejoin when things fail).
DO NOT use a complicated password: Try typing this into your cell phone EWTRTIskfo4tv-039u#v5$%^B^$Y without errors - as you get it from another screen where it is stored and cannot copy and paste. The password in zoom is mostly about keeping out random people who guessed the meeting ID. If they got a copy of the invite, they have the password or ability to get in anyway.
DO NOT let people present without practicing: Those of us who have done live presentations for many years know that stuff happens. Nobody wants to sit there while people try to get their microphone to work, or their video to play, or their application to run, etc. Make sure it works before wasting all of our time.
Yeah... sure... I am a bloody world class expert in security and the question that most security professionals never get right is "What is the purpose of the meeting?".
If the purpose is to keep people out and disengage with them, forget the advice above.
If the purpose is to engage people and bring them into a community, then follow my advice.
"Security" is about assuring utility. The technology is used to address a business need. Things that make the technology less useful are averse to security. Stop it!
But people will just do what they want and it will be out of control
In person the same thing is true. Indeed, the big problem is not that people will behave badly. It's that you will lose them if they cannot participate. Engagement is generally the purpose of meetings (or it should be).
Think of a physical meeting where you tape closed the mouths of the attendees and put on blinders so they can only see the stage. You give them a pen and paper so they can hand in written comments and questions. How many will be at the next meeting if they don't have to be?
The novelty will wear off, and then you will be fully disengaged.
The solution is to make the forum engaging. Humor. Joy. Short presentations. Rapid feedback. A good host and showrunner. Surprises. and make it FUN!
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Stop trying to control people and try engaging them. Consider the physical analogy.
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