Small and large organizations alike — whether they’re a local government, school or hospital board — hold regular meetings to discuss progress, including financial updates, service improvements and future plans. More importantly, it provides a platform to drive greater transparency with their stakeholders, so they are kept abreast of news and issues, and no changes will come as a surprise.
However, getting meeting videos online and in public is more complicated than it may first appear. For example, the videos have to be streamed live, stored for archive viewing and as a public record. It also must be organized properly for easy navigation. For various reasons, many organizations often turn to outside parties to manage these efforts.
With all the complexity that could be involved, are videos worth it? Will stakeholders be more engaged in the affairs that affect them through your online meeting videos?
Given how people consume information in today’s digitally connected world, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Here are some ways videos can help engage your public.
Live-Streaming for Easy Participation
We all live fast-paced, busy lives, and in times where conflicts in schedules cannot be avoided, and we can’t physically attend, the best alternative is to be ‘virtually present’.
In that case, stakeholders who cannot attend a meeting may be able to join online via a streaming service. We’re not talking about using social media technology like Facebook Live, but in a professional format that better represents your organization.
Consider involving a third-party audio/video specialist to help you out with the technicalities of set up, recording and playback. The price may be higher than if you had your IT department deal with it, but having an expert on board means you know it’s done right.
Being able to follow meetings real-time, or being able to quickly hone in on a section or topic of interest from wherever they happen to be at the time, means it’s easier for stakeholders to be engaged.
On-Demand Post-Meeting Viewing
For those who weren’t able to join real-time, but wish to know what happened in the meeting, a key strength of videos is instant recap. You’ll want to make sure it’s easy for your website visitors to find the specific video on your website with a few simple clicks. The more seamless and intuitive the experience, the more your stakeholders will likely return in the future.
Once the target video is found, they could opt to view it from the beginning to end, but the better option, is to have it automatically indexed with agendas, minutes and other relevant meeting information for those who are looking specifically for a particular agenda topic or motion, and want the ability to view ONLY that segment.
Understanding how having to sit through hour(s) of video footage could be a chore (even with scrubbing, which is prone to going too far or not far enough), some meeting management providers offer this option.
When video becomes an easy-to-use tool, it will be used more often, raising engagement. In time, you will find that your stakeholders are more in tune with the current affairs of your organization, evolving into a more transparent body.
Availability of Supporting Documentation
Meetings often include electronic documents, such as a PowerPoint presentation with graphical illustrations, reports and legislation, maybe city maps, planning documents and much, much more. Sometimes, stakeholders may request to see some of these reference documents after the meeting to study at their convenience.
In the past, dealing with stakeholder and public queries can be time consuming, for both the requestor and responder — for the requestor (your stakeholder), they have to wait to hear back; for the responder (a staff member at the organization), they’re taken away from their tasks to look for the answer or document.
Now though, it is possible to attach supporting documents to the video (that’s synced up to the agenda item), reducing the amount of time both parties spend on queries. Stakeholders are now offered the option to be self-reliant: instead of waiting around, they can proactively seek out the information on the website, and reach out if they can’t find what they’re looking for or want more. They will be better informed and can read up on their own time.
As for your staff, they can focus their time on dealing with projects they had been tasked to do, raising their productivity and effectiveness. It’s a win-win situation.
Archiving Per Law
This one is not so much a benefit to your stakeholders, but a point to take note of. In some communities or organizations, archiving is actually required by the law. Years of public meeting transcripts must be available. Having video helps add a higher level of detail and context to the public record.
In any case, even if not requested by law, meetings often make plans for months or years in the future. Archived videos are a great way to recall the information from the meeting and better hold people accountable. They also provide a public record in case there is a question about the direction of the organization.
While there are significant benefits to using videos to engage your stakeholders, the more important result is that it helps build trust towards your organization through being transparent and accessible. Getting involved with videos may seem like a daunting task, our advice is: be proactive in exploring videos as the next step for conducting digitally inclusive meetings, you might be surprised that it could be easier than you think to get started.
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