The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a massive increase in online communications, replacing face-to-face meetings and events. Whether it’s a multinational corporation or your Parent Club, we’ve all adapted to new methods of communication. Even if face-to-face meetings are possible, some Parent Clubs may choose to run some meetings online for convenience. Each club will need to weigh the pros and cons of online meetings. You could try running some online and some face-to-face and see what works for your members.
- You can run your regular Parent Club meetings online using a videoconferencing tool such as Zoom. Some parents will actually prefer online meetings since they don’t have to travel.
- Parents who are working from home may feel they’re already spending far too much time at the computer. If you’re organising online events such as meetings via videoconference, keep them as short as possible and make them flexible – schedule the essential items first so that ‘Zoom-weary’ parents can leave early.
- Remember that not all parents will be comfortable or experienced in using such technology – but others will, enlist them as ‘tech support’ to help those who need it.
- You can also run your AGM online. The AGM is essential – it’s mandated in your Constitution.
- The normal rules (from your Constitution) apply to online meetings. You still need a chair, quorum requirements still apply, you still need someone to take and distribute minutes.
- You can still run guest speaker events – in fact, there’s an opportunity to bring in guest speakers from remote locations – even from overseas – the online environment has no borders!
- For videoconferencing, there are a number of platforms you can use. Zoom and Webex have free versions available, but there are limitations. A Parents Victoria survey in 2021 suggested that Zoom is the most popular system for videoconferencing.
Online meeting tips
If you are using Zoom, Webex or a similar videoconferencing platform to run meetings or social events, here are a few tips:
- Make sure everyone gets the meeting invitation in advance.
- Keep interruptions to a minimum, and encourage others to do the same.
- As the meeting host, you can mute all participants. This is a very useful feature (especially for a guest-speaker event) but explain how and why you’re going to use it first.
- Don’t make everyone wait while you sort out one person’s technical issues. Try a quick fix and if it doesn’t work, move on if at all possible, for the sake of other participants. Encourage all participants to test their system before the meeting.
- You might find wearing headphones helps you to hear better and blocks out background noise.
- Speaking of background noise, try to find a quiet room. A blaring TV or loud voices in the background are very distracting for you and others (your microphone will pick them up).
- You can use a tablet or phone, but most users report a better experience on a laptop or desktop computer. It’s easier to find the controls and you can generally see all the other participants, which makes for a more ‘social’ experience.
A 2022 Information Sheet from the Education Department has some useful advice about online meetings (See Page 2. This sheet recommends the Department’s preferred video-conferencing platform, Webex.)