in Adisa News Connecting with the Community

Our First Virtual Public Meeting (and the City’s too)

The heart of our business is conducting public meetings and events to support community decision-making processes. With the state of the world and our communities what it is, we had to get innovative if we were going to continue our work.

And you know what? We did it.

At the end of April, we held the first virtual meeting the city of Austin has ever had. We set up and executed an online public meeting, where the residents could join the project team from the Austin Housing Finance Corporation regarding affordable housing. Important stuff.

It was no small feat. We made mistakes. But here’s what we learned:

•      You had better have a good reason for holding a meeting in a virtual environment. Attendees in a virtual meeting are susceptible to a lot of distractions. It’s way harder to tell if people are actually paying attention online than it is in a face-to-face meeting.

•      Shorter presentations are better.

•      You must find ways to engage those who cannot get online. Set up ways for them to call in, text, comment, or email their thoughts.

•      You would think with technologies like Zoom and Webex, it would require fewer people to pull off a virtual meeting than an in-person meeting, but that’s not true. How do you handle all of those people who are calling in, texting, chat-boxing (I made that up), and emailing? You need people from your team who can engage back immediately. And what if they speak a language besides English? You have to have translators on hand. Every person deserves to be seen and heard, no matter how they choose to participate in the conversation.

With this milestone under our belts, we are looking for other opportunities to lead abundantly. As the year moves on, we will continue to innovate in order to be responsive during this time of change. On a personal level, I will continue to focus on my team, my family, and my community, while Adisa Communications continues to contemplate our core values: caring, clarity, creativity, and connection.

Be smart and safe out there,
Shuronda Robinson