Online Voting for Virtual and Hybrid Events
Your board has decided to move all voting meetings to a remote or hybrid format with online voting. With meeting attendees participating virtually, how can you make sure that the decisions your organization makes continue to be effective and valuable? Many online voting solutions for meetings come with built-in flexibility, allowing you to conduct business however you see fit. Below, you can find some of our recommendations to ensure the best possible decision-making experience.
There are a few ways you could organize the voting processes of your meeting, depending on your needs and meeting specifics. For example, you may wish to provide time for discussion and debate before voting on items. To do so, you would allow members to access the meeting platform and the linked video stream before you officially open voting. With most online meeting management solutions, opening the voting process is as simple as clicking a button, so you can easily begin voting whenever the discussion is closed, and your members are ready.
If you have multiple agenda items to vote on, you can open voting for each item one at a time. This would allow you to hold a discussion for each item individually, only opening the voting process for that specific item when the debate is done.
Alternatively, you could hold a long discussion period at the beginning of your meeting that covers all agenda items, and then open voting for every item at once. Depending on the amount and type of agenda items you have, you could also group items into thematic categories, and hold discussions and voting for each group one at a time.
While holding a debate period before opening the voting process can help keep everyone engaged and prevent members from simply going down the agenda, voting on topics, and then leaving the meeting, you of course are not required to make room for any discussion, unless dictated otherwise in your by-laws. If you are confident that your members have the information and insights they need to cast their votes, you could simply open voting as soon as the meeting begins.
Regardless of how you choose to organize the voting aspect of your remote or hybrid meeting, your members should be well aware of the procedure before the event. If all voting for each agenda topic is disabled until it is time to vote, make sure everyone knows this before the meeting begins. It might also be important for your organization to ensure that the meeting management solution you intend to use offers capabilities for proxy voting or weighted votes.
If you’re ultimate goal is to hold a virtual or hybrid meeting that mimics in-person meetings, you will likely want to rely on video streaming to allow for face-to-face communication.
In this case, ensure that the meeting management solution you intend to use offers video streaming integration with common streaming solutions. Moreover, you should verify that the meeting management platform is able to provide access to the video stream, whether through a link or button. This ensures that only eligible participants that have been authenticated by the platform can access the stream.
There are a number of reasons why turning video on can be valuable for your meeting:
Non-verbal cues are important — you can see if participants are looking at the screen and fully engaged in the meeting or if they are multi-tasking.
You can also see if attendees are confused, have something to add, or disagree with a statement. Some people don’t speak up on remote conference calls, meaning some aspects of a discussion might not happen.
Video makes the people attending the meeting more real. The ability to see the person speaking, or the person you’re speaking to, helps focus attendees’ attention, and it also helps conversation stay respectful and professional.
For these reasons, you may wish to make turning on video mandatory for meeting attendees. If you do decide to require video, it’s important to set expectations early and communicate with participants. For example, make sure all participants know that video is expected well in advance. This allows each participant to plan accordingly — where they will participate from and what kind of device they will use, etc. You should also let attendees know how to best participate. Will they be muted upon entering the meeting? Is there a protocol they need to follow when they want to speak?
Remember that a meeting management and online voting solution should offer you the flexibility you need to hold a meeting efficiently and securely, both to your liking and in accordance with your organization’s by-laws. Your provider should also offer the necessary support to help you get your first meeting with online voting up and running smoothly. To learn more about what to look for in an online voting provider, take a look at this article.