Choosing The Tools

We have talked a lot about Zoom, but that is not the only option. If you are only needing space for a few people then Skype might do the job. It might be that someone in the organising group has access to a tool from work that they can use. All that matters about the tool is that those using it have the skills to make it blend into the background.

The free version of Zoom only requires that you register and then you can start scheduling meetings. There are lots of very specific limitations of the free version, but they can be engineered out of you program if you need to.

People and Time

You can have 100 people in all Zoom meetings so that covers most general events. If you need above that then you will need either the webinar add-ons or the meeting add-ons. The main limitation is on time. Once the third person joins a meeting then the clock starts and you have 40 minutes before the meeting closes. Currently this is often ignored and you simply get a message telling you that you can carry on, but at some point this will become an end to the meeting.

So it you can plan to have two people present for ten minutes each, along with everyone arriving on time and minimal questions at the end then you might be ok with the basic package.

Meeting Management

With the free version you will organise and host the meeting yourself and have to keep an eye on everything. This is fine if there are a dozen people, but as the numbers increase it can become very complicated very quickly. With the Pro package the meeting host can appoint co-hosts who have almost all the same rights. If you know the people presenting then this can be a really great way to share the workload as well as allow others to deal with the little jobs during the meeting.

Co-host tasks can include:

  • Admitting people from the waiting room
  • Muting people who generate background interruptions
  • Renaming attendees when they join
  • Chatting to individuals to queue up questions
  • Un-sharing screens at the end of a presentation
  • Taking over a presenters screen to move the slides along
  • Recording the show as a transcript
  • Creating and running Polls

It is usually best to have two or three additional co-hosts, who are not themselves actively involved in the meeting.

We have talked about inviting and planning and for this we have used Eventbrite and Mailchimp. Both do different thinks and can be used in isolation or together. Eventbrite will manage the advert for the meeting, store a list of attendees and handle tickets. Mailchimp handles the list of those who might be interested, who has expressed an interest and then maintains a sectored list send out invites and tickets.