9 tips for mastering virtual public meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic
27 May 2020

Making a presentation to public officials and community groups via Zoom, vimeo, or another virtual platform takes special preparation.

As public agencies, local government leaders, design and construction project teams, and their clients are all trying to find new ways to keep their cities and their construction projects moving, public meetings are increasingly moving online. To be successful in this newly virtual world and ultimately gain community buy-in and obtain regulatory approvals, building industry professionals will need to adapt their approach and learn how to master the virtual public meeting.

It can be daunting. Our firm, Cooper Robertson, was halfway through a long-range master plan for George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., when COVID-19 hit. In the previous five months, we had facilitated over a hundred campus meetings with faculty, staff, and students, held dozens of workshops and work sessions, and toured every inch of campus many times over. With the next round of community workshops already in the calendar, and everyone committed to continuing the collaboration, our team turned Zoom into a virtual community meeting hall and met with over 500 people over the course of two weeks.

Was the transition smooth? Not exactly. Did we learn along the way? For sure. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Below are some lessons learned during our firm’s recent immersion in the high seas of virtual public meetings.

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