Full marks to FHI Studios’ Zoom presentation about the developing Red Bank Master Plan.
Of course, there were shortcomings in the topics and subsequent responses to questions and comments, but at all times there was a transparency to the proceedings and from this participant’s point of view it was evident that the event was being run with an aim to convey as much information and in turn, take important questions and comment in an open, respectful, and ordered way.
Participants can see the order of questioners and are able to share comments using “Chat”
There were, of course, issues. If you were unfamiliar with Zoom conventions it would be hard to keep on top of proceedings and to follow Chat. What was more difficult was having to switch multiple screens and needing to be proficient at speed-typing to get any meaningful input to the many questions. But most of these are user issues, and most people learn pretty quickly. However, if you were calling in on the phone, it would be pretty difficult to do anything other than listen.
It’s good to see the borough is now running hybrid in-the-room and Zoom meetings. I hope the several Councillors and board chairs present noted how access to Chat facilitates the exchange of ideas and allows participants to ask questions and even helpfully prompt speakers ‘on-the-fly‘.
The Participants’ List aids transparency by making proceedings transparent, without the feeling that awkward customers are being ignored – goodness knows democracy needs “awkward customers, and knowing that the meeting panel isn’t prompting the usual suspects to either rescue them or throw in a red herring… because that never happens? Right?
There are some other issues with the borough Zoom protocols. Hopefully, the meeting facilitators know that it’s easy to use two cameras and two microphones. You can even automate the process of switching if required. This would open up the room for Zoom participants and increase their sense of participation. Of course, what would also help is running meetings according to standing orders… Assuming borough meetings are run to order. By observation, they’re not, but that’s a question for another day.