Zoom - Webinar and Meeting FAQ

How is a Town Public Meeting Webinar different than a regular Zoom meeting?

We use the Zoom Webinar format to hold Public Meetings where the public will be allowed to speak. The Webinar format allows public Attendees to view the Panelists during the meeting, but not speak unless they are recognized. Attendees are able to use the virtual "raise hand" feature to be recognized when asked for their public comment. The public may be asked to submit a speaker request ahead of time in some circumstances where a large number of people wish to speak. 

But it seems that Zoom Meeting might be more "public friendly" than Zoom webinar?

The features of Zoom Meeting and Zoom Webinar are similar in many aspects. There are, however, some key differences that drive the choice of Zoom webinars for large meetings.

  • Zoom Meetings are designed to be analogous to physical meeting rooms hosting small groups in  a collaborative event where all participants are able to share video, audio and screens/applications. 
  • Zoom Webinars are designed to be analogous to auditoriums or other public events with a large audience is anticipated. The host and any designated panelists can share their video, audio and screen. Webinars allow view-only attendees. They have the ability to interact via raising their hand to be recognized or answering polling questions. The host can also unmute the attendees.
  • There are also security differences between Zoom Meetings and Webinars. 

Security Differences between Zoom Meetings and Zoom Webinars

  • Video Controls: In Zoom Meetings, although the Host can set the default to be that an attendee connects with video initially turned off, the attendee has the ability to turn the video on at any time. The host can block an individual attendee's video capability only after the attendee has joined. In large meeting scenarios, people are constantly joining and dropping. Attackers looking to bomb a meeting create a churn of connections that cannot be practically managed, ultimately breaking through and creating the disruption. Zoom Webinars allows for attendee video and audio to be initially disabled, and later enabled and unmuted as appropriate. 
  • Audio Participation: Public meetings are conducted following published agendas, with designated agenda items for public comment. Use of the "Raise Hand" feature in Zoom allows for public attendees to be recognized and their audio enabled.
  • Attendee Listing: A frequent request is "I would like to see who else is in attendance. I can see the attendees in Zoom Meetings. This is an unfair restriction in a Zoom Webinar".  Seems straightforward, however...
    • In Zoom Meetings, public (unregistered) attendees can rename themselves to whatever they choose (e.g. "Accountability"). Since attendees are allowed to rename themselves, the attendee list does not reliably show who is in attendance at the meeting.
    • Zoom Webinar allows for showing the number of current attendees which is a reliable metric.
  • Q&A and Chat: Proper in-person public meeting etiquette is to avoid disruptive in-room private conversations or public outbursts. The lack of Q&A and Chat facilitates adherence to meeting etiquette.

What should I expect as a Public Webinar Attendee?

When you join the Webinar as an Attendee, you will: 

  • not have your webcam or microphone transmitting when you join. 
  • not be able to see or communicate with other Public Attendees in the Webinar. 
  • You will be asked to use "Raise Hand" button to be recognized to make a public comment. 
  • Dial-In Users: Press *9 (star-nine) to raise your hand.
  • You will be allowed to un-mute your microphone and speak publicly after you are recognized.