Shared Practices for Engagement in Virtual Meetings

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Shared Practices for Engagement in Virtual Meetings

Shared Practices for Engagement in Virtual Meetings

Hosting engaging public meetings over virtual platforms can be tricky. Since we began working from home in March, MAPC has been working with staff and partners to understand how to host engaging virtual meetings, ranging from small-scall project meetings to Annual Town Meeting. This document assembles recommendations and shared practices that the Community Engagement, Communications, and Digital Services teams at MAPC have identified and adopted. In this guide, we will cover what to do before, during, and after your meeting, review Zoom-specific tips and tricks, discuss how to respond to meeting disruptions (ZoomBombing), and discuss how to deal with some specific technology challenges. We know that this guide, while it is comprehensive, cannot address every question or prepare you for every meeting. If you have additional questions or are looking for brainstorming or advice, we encourage you to reach out to the Community Engagement Team at MAPC at

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Preparing Your Virtual Meeting

Just like hosting in-person meetings, virtual meetings need time for preparation, consideration of staff roles, and an outreach strategy. Unlike in-person meetings, you will need to make some important decisions about and spend additional time on your technology set up to ensure your meeting runs smoothly. In this section of MAPC’s guide you will find advice about how to set your meeting up for success from personnel, technology and engagement perspectives.

Assign Staff Roles

All staff assigned to these roles should have co-hosting privileges in your webinar/meeting platform. In addition, their name should indicate their role, especially for the Tech Support role. If you are using Zoom, you can assign co-hosts by following these instructions.

Facilitator Notetaker and Chat Manager Tech Support Access Manager If possible, Model Participant
Primary Role Leads the meeting, facilitates conversation, transitions between other presenters. Watches chat, responds to questions, directs questions to appropriate staff person, take notes. For very large meetings you may need more than one person in this role. Adjusts sound and camera, mutes participants. Changes name to “IT HELP First Last”. Change background to blue if able. For large meetings, consider providing an IT Help phone number that participants can call during the meeting. Provides participants with access information for the meeting (typically only if participants need to call in to receive the information). Demonstrates best practices as a Participant (muting self, writing questions in the chat, etc.).
Secondary Role If you have multiple topics, you may have multiple facilitators! Or one facilitator who connects the dots between the topics. Can also send the facilitator the questions from the chat they are going to answer, especially with a big group. Supports participants with tech difficulties. If meeting is small: your note-taker or tech-support person could be this role as well.
Prepare Your Staff
Get Familiar with Your Platform
Communicate with Participants
Zoom Registration & Passwords
Schedule a Test Run
Double Check your Technology

Setting Up Your Virtual Meeting

On the day of your meeting, you will want to double check your settings, send any reminder emails, and troubleshoot any technology issues. Give yourself 30 minutes (at least) to log on and get started, troubleshoot any issues, and start sharing your screen if you need to. This section will review specific settings to disable or enable, setting up your physical and technological space, and preventing meeting disruptions.

Virtual Platform Settings

If you are using Zoom, make sure you toggle the below settings at least 30 minutes before your meeting. These settings are intended to address large and/or public meetings and will help make your meeting more secure. If you are hosting a small or private meeting, you do not need to address all of these. Some of these settings must be addressed on the Zoom Web Portal prior to launching your meeting and some of them can only be addressed in the Zoom Window after you start your meeting. Lastly, even though these settings are geared towards Zoom, they apply in principal to any platform you are using.

Zoom Setting Overview for Large Meetings

Disable/Turn Off These Settings Enable/Turn On These Settings Optional Settings
  • Turn off participant video (for large meetings)
  • Turn off authentication requirement for all users on all platforms (this setting forces people to create Zoom accounts but does not necessarily make your meeting more secure)
  • Disable “Allow Removed Participants to Re-join"
  • Disable participants from using profile pictures in a meeting (these are the pictures that appear when video is turned off)
  • Disable participants from saving the chat
  • Disable “Allow participants to rename themselves”
  • Disable annotation for participants
  • Disable “File Transfer”
  • Disable Screen Sharing for participants
  • Disable “Join Before Host”
  • Disable “Private Chat”
  • Disable “Participants Can Unmute Themselves”
  • Disable “Virtual Background”
  • Disable “Far end camera control”
  • Enable telephone and computer audio for participants
  • Enable Chat (but only to all participants)
  • Enable muting participants upon entry
  • Enable Screen Sharing for host only
  • Turn on the chat auto-save
  • Enable “Co-Hosts”
  • Enable Personal Meeting ID
  • Turn on the sound notification when a participant joins or leaves, heard by host only
  • Turn on “Always show meeting control bar”
  • Turn on “Waiting Room”
  • Enable meeting password
  • Enable embed passcode in invite link for one-click join
  • Enable nonverbal feedback
  • Enable meeting reactions
  • Upcoming meeting reminder
  • Display end-of-meeting experience feedback survey for every meeting
  • Zoom polling
  • Zoom Breakout Rooms
  • Show Zoom windows during screen share (allows you to prevent participants from seeing zoom windows during screen share)
  • Zoom Whiteboard
  • Remote control (allow others to control screen share content)
  • Closed captioning
  • Language interpretation
  • Remote support (allows a user to request assistance from the host
  • Livestreaming
Physical Setup
Technology Setup
Changing your View in Zoom
Zoom and Screen Sharing
Preventing Meeting Disruptions (ZoomBombing)
Setting Up Your Meeting to Protect Against ZoomBombing
Responding to ZoomBombing

Facilitating Your Meeting

Facilitating a virtual meeting requires different techniques and methods than facilitating an in-person meeting. While virtual platforms lack some of the best ways to make meetings engaging, there are some things that you can do to make your meeting a good experience for all involved. This section will review how to approach different parts of the meeting, from the moment participants log on to the moment they log off.

A woman with dark brown hair and who is wearing a pink sweater sits in front of a computer screen on a virtual call.
General Recommendations

Below are some general facilitation guidelines based on how large your meeting is. Some of these functions will depend on whether your meeting is public or private.

For 0 to 15 people Up to 30 people More than 30 people
Participant can unmute and share their perspectives

Encourage participants to use the chat function for questions and comments

Use visual cues more during the meeting: physically raise your hand, give a thumbs up!

Encourage more open dialogue and conversation

Ask for interaction by calling people by name

Mute all participants upon entry

Turn off the ability for participants to unmute themselves

Ask for interaction by calling people by name and unmuting them

Encourage participants to use the chat function for questions and comments

Use the chat function instead of visual cues, which will be difficult to do in a meeting this large

Mute all participants upon entry

Turn off the ability for participants to unmute themselves.

Ask participants to turn off their video

Use live polling or surveys to capture feedback quickly

Add more tech support: up to three other people besides the facilitator

Consider using Break out groups for more detailed conversations

Do not rely on visual cues for responses

Consider providing an IT support phone number

During Log-in
Starting your Meeting
Managing Participating during the Meeting
Using the Chat
Taking Notes During the Meeting
Managing Technology During the Meeting
Guidelines for Recording
Zoom and Breakout Rooms
Zoom and Polls

Responding to Specific Technical Issues

As you are facilitating your meeting, you might run in to some specific technical issues. It happens to even the most prepared and seasoned virtual facilitator. This section reviews several specific scenarios and discusses some potential solutions to each.

Remember: If things are going wrong, that is okay – let your Participants know what you are doing so that they are aware of what is happening and everyone is on the same page. You will make it better next time!

After Your Virtual Meeting

After your meeting is over, you will want to connect with your team and participants. This section reviews some suggestions about closing the participation circle.

Debrief with Your Staff Team

    • Debrief how the meeting went and identify plusses and deltas
    • Practice troubleshooting any problems that came up to be aware of for the next time
    • Share any ‘aha’ moments or new best practices with your entire staff team so that you can help each other grow in your facilitation!

Communicate with Participants

Send a follow up email that includes:

    • A reminder about the recording and information on how it will be shared (or a link to the recording if it is ready).
    • Reminder of the approval they had given to use the recording.
    • Request for feedback regarding the meeting (both content-wise and technology/facilitation-wise.
    • Any important information for future events or meetings.

Additional Recommendations

Zoom has numerous functions that can help you make sure that your meetings are accessible to a wide range of participants. This section reviews several of those functions.

Enabling and Using Language Interpretation

Using Closed Captioning in a Meeting

Enabling and Using Language Interpretation

Preparing Interpretation

    • You must provide the interpreter.
    • Set up a meeting with the interpreter ahead of time to make sure they know their role and know how the interpretation function works in zoom.


    • Interpreters cannot submit questions to the main chat because they are in their own language “room” and therefore are not in the main room.
    • Cloud recording will only record the main audio, not any of the interpretation audio channels. Local recording will record any audio that person is hearing, including any interpretation.
    • If you want to record the interpretation, you must have a participant join that audio channel and locally record.
    • Similarly, language interpretation does not work well with breakout rooms, as the interpreter will only be able to hear the audio of the breakout room they are in.

Using Closed Captioning in a Meeting

Note: You can assign a participant to live-type the closed captions, however Zoom recommends that you use a third-party API for closed captioning in breakout rooms. Because you can only assign one participant to type closed captions, only the breakout room they are in will have closed captioning.

    • Using a Third-Party API for Closed Captioning: There are numerous options for this, however none of them are free. MAPC uses for interpretation, however other organizations have used Zoom also provides captions on meeting recordings (not live) using You can learn more about here. You can learn more about third-party closed captioning in zoom here.
    • Note: Live Captions do not work with Livestreaming or in Breakout Rooms


You can share your meeting or webinar live on YouTube, Facebook, or another service (like the local cable access TV). Doing this will make your meeting more accessible to people in your community, comply with public meeting laws, and ensure that folks without internet access can view (in the case of CATV). Zoom has very detailed instructions for setting up and deploying your livestream, which you can find below. One important thing to note is that if you are using another organization’s YouTube or Facebook or using CATV, you need information from those organizations in order to set up your stream.