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Large, remote videoconferenced meetings: advisable?


Howard Roark
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Our statewide organization conducts an annual meeting at a central location in our state, with an attendance of about 1000 members, in person and by proxy.  Some members must drive a long distance (sometimes with an overnight stay) to attend this meeting.  A current bylaw proposal would allow for remote meeting sites, which would be two-way audio- and video-conferenced with the central, main meeting.  I anticipate that under this plan there would likely be two of these remote sites established, and each of these remote sites would likely have about 100 or 200 members attending.  The intent is to help promote in-person attendance (at least, at the remote sites) and reduce the use of proxies.

Our existing meetings are sometimes contentious with much heated debate, and the organization sometimes has trouble with things like generating a credentials report, voting, etc., even when the meeting is held in one, central, location.

Question: is amending the bylaws to allow such remote meetings advisable?

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Well, Mr. Roark (love your architectural work, if this is the same Mr. Roark), I guess it depends on the alternative. I personally think an in-person meeting is best. It's not clear to me that the contentious nature will change if the meeting is held in various locations - that most likely arises from the content of the meetings. Can you tell us why there is trouble with the credentials report, voting, and other things? We may be able to give suggestions on how to better structure the meetings to avoid those, without the step of doing what is proposed.

In my opinion, if you are going to do this, it should be done "all the way" - i.e., either stick with what you're doing, or instead have everyone participate by teleconference. In any event, if you do go ahead with it, you will need very carefully constructed rules to deal with things like seeking and getting recognition, voting methods, how to handle motions that may interrupt speakers, how to deal with sound issues, etc. Your rules should certainly cover what happens if one or more sites lose their connection during voting. Does everything halt? Do they just lose the right to vote? Something in between? (In one organization I am familiar with, if a person loses his connection during a videoconference,  and manages to get back within, I think, 5 minutes, he may call for a new vote on any votes he missed, but that organization also requires a roll call vote on just about everything.) The details, in my view, should be kept out of the bylaws, because as you work with the format you'll find things that need to be changed, and so cementing things in is less than ideal, I think.

So, in general, I'd say no. But if the alternative is something worse, such as (shudder) voting by mail combined with in-person meetings, or phone participation, this is better. 

By the way, an easier way to cut down on proxies is (unless there is an applicable statute) to remove the authorization for proxies from your bylaws.

 

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4 hours ago, Howard Roark said:

Our statewide organization conducts an annual meeting at a central location in our state, with an attendance of about 1000 members, in person and by proxy.  Some members must drive a long distance (sometimes with an overnight stay) to attend this meeting.  A current bylaw proposal would allow for remote meeting sites, which would be two-way audio- and video-conferenced with the central, main meeting.  I anticipate that under this plan there would likely be two of these remote sites established, and each of these remote sites would likely have about 100 or 200 members attending.  The intent is to help promote in-person attendance (at least, at the remote sites) and reduce the use of proxies.

Our existing meetings are sometimes contentious with much heated debate, and the organization sometimes has trouble with things like generating a credentials report, voting, etc., even when the meeting is held in one, central, location.

Question: is amending the bylaws to allow such remote meetings advisable?

Given that all the problems you noted, with credentials, voting, etc, will probably be squared or worse, and cubed if you have three sites, I'd vote against it.

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5 hours ago, Howard Roark said:

Our statewide organization conducts an annual meeting at a central location in our state, with an attendance of about 1000 members, in person and by proxy.  Some members must drive a long distance (sometimes with an overnight stay) to attend this meeting.  A current bylaw proposal would allow for remote meeting sites, which would be two-way audio- and video-conferenced with the central, main meeting.  I anticipate that under this plan there would likely be two of these remote sites established, and each of these remote sites would likely have about 100 or 200 members attending.  The intent is to help promote in-person attendance (at least, at the remote sites) and reduce the use of proxies.

Our existing meetings are sometimes contentious with much heated debate, and the organization sometimes has trouble with things like generating a credentials report, voting, etc., even when the meeting is held in one, central, location.

Question: is amending the bylaws to allow such remote meetings advisable?

I have some success, with international organization, but the technology and rules must be adapted for it to work.

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50 minutes ago, J. J. said:

I have some success, with international organization, but the technology and rules must be adapted for it to work.

The deal-breaker is often in finding a voting mechanism that works, and that can handle the requirements in RONR.  And seeking recognition, or when allowable, interrupting one who has the floor, are no easy tasks either.

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1 hour ago, Gary Novosielski said:

The deal-breaker is often in finding a voting mechanism that works, and that can handle the requirements in RONR.  And seeking recognition, or when allowable, interrupting one who has the floor, are no easy tasks either.

Some of that can be handled with good audio/video devices. 

The votes can be tallied separately, if there are 3-4 specific locations.

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55 minutes ago, Transpower said:

I agree with Mr. Katz:  go full teleconferencing.  By the way, Zoom (used for conference meetings) is very reasonably priced.

I agree that full video conferencing works better, though audio only is workable. 

Neither is easy and requires modification of the standard rules. 

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22 hours ago, Howard Roark said:

Our statewide organization conducts an annual meeting at a central location in our state, with an attendance of about 1000 members, in person and by proxy.  Some members must drive a long distance (sometimes with an overnight stay) to attend this meeting.  A current bylaw proposal would allow for remote meeting sites, which would be two-way audio- and video-conferenced with the central, main meeting.  I anticipate that under this plan there would likely be two of these remote sites established, and each of these remote sites would likely have about 100 or 200 members attending.  The intent is to help promote in-person attendance (at least, at the remote sites) and reduce the use of proxies.

Our existing meetings are sometimes contentious with much heated debate, and the organization sometimes has trouble with things like generating a credentials report, voting, etc., even when the meeting is held in one, central, location.

Question: is amending the bylaws to allow such remote meetings advisable?

No. I concur with my colleagues that such a method is not anticipated in parliamentary law and involves a number of parliamentary, practical, and technological challenges.

For a smaller assembly, I might agree with those who suggest instead establishing a method in which all members individually participate by videoconference (or perhaps by teleconference), but with an estimated attendance of hundreds of members (or perhaps even over 1,000 members - the number of proxies vs. actual attendees is unclear), I expect that such solutions in this case will have technological and practical challenges equal to, or perhaps even greater than, the original proposal.

I would suggest either keeping the current annual meeting or, as Mr. Elsman suggests, converting the annual meeting into a convention of delegates.

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Guest Concerned Citizen

To change the topic, a county council holds an electronic meeting to change an ordinance. The county rules regarding electronic meeting state a roll call vote MUST be held. If the only take a voice vote is the vote still valid?

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1 hour ago, Guest Concerned Citizen said:

To change the topic, a county council holds an electronic meeting to change an ordinance. The county rules regarding electronic meeting state a roll call vote MUST be held. If the only take a voice vote is the vote still valid?

This question should be directed to the council's attorney.  And see this by Mr. Gerber  https://robertsrules.forumflash.com/topic/25416-important-read-this-first-faq-and-information-for-new-members-and-guests/

 

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