A Guide to Participating in Virtual Public Meetings

Please refer to this document for the most comprehensive information on how to use Zoom for Falmouth’s virtual online public meetings. Read the information below in its entirety. We appreciate your willingness to learn this technology enough to be able to use it well, which will help us ensure community members can follow along and participate remotely. Fortunately, it is straightforward and user-friendly.

ZOOM MEETING OPERATIONS OVERVIEW

The Town of Falmouth will be using Zoom’s Webinar feature for virtual online public meetings. Learn more about Zoom HERE. The webinar feature divides participants into attendees and panelists.

Town Councilors, Committee Members, Applicants, and/or Town Staff are panelists. Members of the public who join a Zoom meeting are attendees. In the webinar format everyone is allowed to speak at designated times during the meeting. For security pruposes, only panelists can be seen on video.

The meeting is “run” by a host or hosts. Generally, the committee or council chair and a staff person serve as hosts. The role of the host is to manage the meeting.

The Town will provide a web link to access meetings on the meeting agenda prior to the meeting. You may also use a phone to access meetings (see details below).

HOW TO INSTALL ZOOM

To access all the features of Zoom, you will need to install Zoom on your device. For those using tablets to view the remote meetings, you can download the Zoom application from the Apple App Store here, or from Google Play here, depending on your device. You can download the Zoom application for laptop/desktop here. Make certain you always are using the most up-to-date version of Zoom. 

If you call in by phone, there is no need to install Zoom.

TRAINING

Zoom offers several trainings to help users navigate the platform. Please watch these training videos, totaling three minutes –

Join a meeting (1 min.)

Joining & Configuring Audio and Video (1 min.)

Sharing your screen (1 min.)

TIPS AND BEST PRACTICES

Here are a few recommendations to optimize your digital meeting experience. 

  • Arrive early. Join the meeting at least ten minutes before the start time. By joining early, you will have time to troubleshoot any technical challenges. 
  • Rename yourself with First & Last Name (this allows us to prevent "Zoombombing" by hackers from occuring).
  • Silence your phone and all notifications that could interrupt a meeting. Do the same for your computer. 
  • Make sure you Zoom software is updated.
  • Your internet connection has the most significant impact on your video/audio quality. If you are able, it is best to use a wired Internet connection. 
  • To hear and be heard best, we recommend using a headset or headphones with a microphone. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. You can achieve similar results if you are in a quiet room for the duration of the meeting. Wear headphones even if you don’t have a microphone so that you can hear as well as possible.

The Town of Falmouth offers multiple ways to watch and participate in virtual public meetings:

  1. Watch and/or participate in the meeting directly in Zoom by joining the meeting as an attendee. To join a Zoom meeting, follow the link on the meetting agenda.  
  2. Dial in to the meeting with your phone. This method will also allow you to participate in public comment opportunities. The toll-free dial-in numbers for each meeting will be posted prior to each meeting on the meeting agenda.
  3. Watch the broadcast on FalmouthTV, local channel 1301 or view the live stream of the meeting here. These broadcast methods will NOT allow viewers to participate in the meeting. Do not try to simultaneously watch the broadcast and participate via Zoom as there will be a delay. 

PUBLIC COMMENT

Zoom allows you, an attendee, the opportunity to speak during public comment periods. During public comment you will be asked to use the “raise your hand” function to speak. Click on the “raise your hand” option located at the center of your control bar at the bottom of the screen. Dial *9 to "raise your hand" if connecting by phone. The Chair of the meeting will acknowledge each attendee raising their hand in turn. When you are acknowledged, the Chair will unmute your microphone. You will be required to “accept” this action on your device. At that point, as in regular public meetings, state your name and address prior to asking a question or making a comment. When you are finished speaking, the Chair will again mute your microphone and you will be unable to speak further unless you utilize the “raise your hand” function again. Note:  If you are not using the latest update of Zoom, the host may not be able to "invite you to speak" due to security issues. If this occurs, you will need to call in by phone to make a public comment. To avoid this, always check for the latest Zoom update prior to each meeting. 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

To ensure privacy during Executive Session, we will observe the following procedures:

  • A separate, private Zoom meeting for Executive Session will be created.
  • Once a motion to move to Executive Session is approved in the public Zoom meeting, participants in Executive Session will exit the public meeting.
  • Staying in the Zoom app, participants in Executive Session will then join the private meeting created for executive session.
  • Executive Session is done securely in private.
  • Once Executive Session is complete, participants will leave the private Zoom meeting and re-join the public meeting using their panelist join-link for any potential report from Executive Session and adjournment in front of the public.

QUESTIONS

If you experience any challenges installing or using zoom, please contact Jen Phinney at jphinney@falmouthme.org