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COVID 19 – Staging Remote Events


Coronavirus declarations and advice are changing quickly. Last week we posted:

Virtual Resource for Leagues page for “Community Building During the Coronavirus,” with coronavirus links and advice for using collaborative programs:

  • Video and live-stream: Resources for working together remotely. Compares terms for several major platforms.
  • Virtual Meetings: Technical advice on hosting remote League meetings online and over the phone.
  • Videos and Live-streaming: Technical advice on video broadcasts, including livestreaming. Tips for before, during and after, plus tools you’ll need.

Now with “social distancing,” starter instructions are needed to participate in these events with everyone participating remotely. Panel discussions and debates can be presented with a moderator and each candidate appearing on a shared screen, all participating remotely. Advanced tech support will be needed for certain roles, including sharing introductory advice to individual remote panelists or candidates. A larger live audience can be included and these tips should still apply. After mastering these, consider live-streaming. Please share problems and solutions to: lwvor@lwvor.org.

Practice in Advance

Walk through, practice and test every step in advance, repeatedly if necessary, until each person involved is confident. Explore fixing unexpected snags, e.g., sudden bandwidth or power fluctuation disconnecting critical admin or other signal feeds. Evaluate and take notes on symptoms, problems, and solutions, which you can share with others. Help is available online, for example, troubleshooting poor internet connections.

Sign up

Open an account to host events. See information on multiple platforms in the links above. For example here, explore the Zoom help website. One-on-one training has longer than usual wait times now. The basic (free) plan provides 40-minute limit meetings for 3 or more, and advance scheduling is possible. Participants (screen or phone) do not need to open Zoom accounts to join sessions. See Instructions:

Connection Prep

Be sure each panelist has adequate online access. Test Each Remote Internet Connection, every time. App or system updates or other technical delays may pop up any time programs are opened.

Establish, Recruit, and Assign Meeting Roles

Calls, webinars, and live-streaming require technical support for separate tasks. Recruit and train volunteer/staff with practice calls. Build in and allow for back-up options and redundancy (people, equipment, wifi or hard-wired access) to address schedule conflicts, illness, etc.

Publicity decisions and audience outreach strategy should be designed together, in advance. Partner with other groups who may have experienced members who can train others or just help. Find others for mutual mentoring! You will need people to fill these roles:

  • Moderator or on-screen anchor, the visible “host,” to manage on-screen tasks as the emcee: opening, introductions, thanking partners/sponsors, announcing agreements or rules, asking questions, managing follow up, closing, etc.
  • Administrator, or “admin” to control what the audience will see and hear. This person should be separate from the on-screen Moderator. The administrator can be responsible for recording for subsequent video editing and posting.
  • Panelists, Debaters: images and audio for the featured speakers will be continuously managed, to give them turns intermittently occupying the full screen, or to be muted and recessed so another can speak and be seen, in turn.
  • Chat admin, an off-screen tech-support person, can direct candidates to adjust cameras, speak louder, etc. They will monitor the chat bar. If we need to train volunteers to perform these tasks, we will need help with several remaining chat bar questions:
    • Limit chat bar visibility so the chat/comment bar will not be seen in the recording or publicly visible if live-streaming.
    • Set individual chat access for each panelist, for directions to speak louder, closer to the screen, etc. Panelists should each have personal/private access to chat with the administrator, not visible to other panelists.
    • Set audience chat access so they can send in questions in real time, without the chat bar being publicly visible. Questions can be submitted in multiple ways so this is not a deal-breaker.
  • Audience: The Administrator can decide who can see the screen in real time, as meeting participants or as a live-stream. It is not clear that broadcasting live to an off-screen audience (audio & video invisible) can be done in Zoom. To allow viewing access but to mute callers visually and for sound may require additional staff to accept each one as they logon, setting access individually to mute. Some suggest a Zoom meeting can be simultaneously shown in FaceTime, another account with an access limited audience. Recordings can be posted online afterwards, to an unlimited public audience on websites, YouTube Channels, Facebook pages, etc.
  • Publicity: Plan publicity in advance. Get panelist bios & pix, design event graphics to post to pre-determined audience outreach links. Publicize directions to submit questions, for example to websites, organization phone and/or email, and social media.

Invite others

See How do I Invite Others? Send e-vites by email, IM (text messaging), otherwise forward the link, or see the page for conference phone calls. Each meeting will have a unique meeting ID required to find the meeting, and can be further customized by assigning individual “personal meeting ID.” It makes sense to invite participants with these individual sign-ons, so they tell you who they are and enter an email for follow up, event analytics, recruiting, etc.

Scheduling Meetings

See the Zoom Schedule A Meeting button. LWV FL recommends starting 15-20 minutes after the hour with so many online starting on the hour. Consider using doodle polls to propose dates to find the best match for most in a group to share a meeting.

Train Panelists

Panelists may need help logging in, seeing how they appear and sound on screen, etc. Pre-arrange for back up support methods, agreeing to use cell phone texts, for example, to ask for help to avoid interruptions to fix problems “behind the scenes.” These may be obvious, but worth it to be sure:

  • Sound: Silence background noises: cell phones, background household, outdoor, or office noises.
  • Image: lighting should be from the front and not cast shadows. Choose a simple, not distracting background, focusing on the individual.
  • Interference: If possible, have someone shield against other interruptions, phone calls, doorbells, etc.

Follow Up/Anticipate & Avoid Problems

After the event video recordings can be posted on League home, Voter Service or other webpages, via social media, YouTube Channels, etc. Share links in emails and newsletters.

Videos can be edited by layering introduction banners over video images for the event, titles, branding, panelist names and titles. This Facebook Live instruction video for banners, etc., is in the LWVOR live-streaming instruction listed at the beginning.

Extra Options & Questions for Experts

We are interested in Breakout Rooms, which may be very helpful for large League Council and Convention calls. We are interested in Waiting rooms, listed on the meeting schedule page. This may be a “green room” for panelists to stand by,” off screen, or a breakout room.

Thank you for reading and please consider this a dynamic document. Suggestions are welcome and we regret that we are learning and cannot offer technical support.