Following the online 55th CIML Meeting (20–22 October 2020), the BIML emailed all the meeting participants requesting their feedback with a view to improving future online OIML meetings. Responses were received from 69 participants and the summary of the replies and comments received is presented below.
Q7 - How could online meetings be improved in the future?
1 General comments
There was overwhelming agreement that the meeting had been very well organised and efficiently run. It was felt that holding an online CIML meeting had been the right thing to do, because it had not been possible to hold an in-person meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Comments were also received that the relatively large number of participants had been well managed thanks to good advance preparation, and that the online 55th CIML Meeting had taken the form of similar successful online assemblies in other organisations. Participants demonstrated that a virtual meeting is feasible and this first online meeting was considered as very successful.
General suggestions for the future included ensuring that enough time was allowed for meaningful discussion and questions, notably following the reading of the draft resolutions, and also to allow more opportunity for Attendees to make contributions in addition to Panelists, as participation and interaction should be encouraged from all participants.
A suggestion was also made to hold a group photo session.
2 Participants, attendees, roll call
A suggestion was made to use the Zoom roll call feature in addition to making the list of participants available, as this can facilitate subsequent bi- and multilateral communication between participants after the meeting. Using this tool could also reduce the time necessary to hold a roll call during the meeting.
It was also suggested to make the video feed of the Attendees visible to all (as is the case for Panelists) so that all participants can see and recognise colleagues as they would be able to in an in-person meeting. Some Attendees felt awkward at not being visible to colleagues. However, the BIML points out that Zoom does not allow this possibility for those who participate in Attendee mode.
Participants were grateful for the possibility to be able to use the chat function.
3 Breaks / networking / parallel meetings
There were several comments expressing the sentiment that one 10-minute break was not enough; at least 20 minutes would have been preferable, as would be the case in an in-person meeting. The possibility of creating several parallel online discussion/breakout meeting rooms where people can join and leave as they like was also proposed for the future – possibly even each with a host to encourage spin-off discussions or seminars. It was suggested that this type of setup would provide a good opportunity for networking.
4 Online voting in the meeting
A number of respondents felt that in the future, voting should be carried out during the meeting if possible.
A minority of participants encountered temporary technical difficulties (with sound and/or video), but this was due to their local internet connection or computer as the BIML hosted the meeting on a protected fibre optic link with a second, redundant link in the event of the primary link failing (which did not happen).
There was sometimes a delay in participants succeeding in unmuting their microphones, and it appeared that a minority of participants were unaware that their microphones were temporarily and involuntarily unmuted, which sometimes caused a degree of disruption. BIML staff were monitoring this and muted open microphones as soon as possible.
Two respondents enquired whether it would be possible to incorporate interpretation into other widely used languages such as Spanish. The BIML points out that at in-person meetings, French and English interpretation is provided as these are the official and working languages of the Organisation, respectively.
Q10 - Please share any other comments you have below
Many participants commented again that the meeting had been very well planned and organised, and that they had found the discussion session very useful. Some commented that in the light of this successful online CIML meeting they would now be confident in also holding/attending a Project Group meeting online.
Some participants in the eastern parts of the world had found the start and end times difficult to manage, but acknowledged that an average start time had had to be decided on in order to be fair to all the countries participating.
Lastly under question 10, one participant commented that they appreciated the two test runs in advance of the CIML meeting to ensure the system would function correctly. They wondered whether the length of the test runs could be shortened in the future, as most people would now be familiar with the technology used in online meetings.