Conduct Meeting – Handling Public Speakers 


This document assumes you are now familiar with Creating, Preparing and Running a Basic Meeting.  During a meeting, there will be instances where you invite scheduled (or unscheduled) speakers.  This could be invited guests to speak on topics pertinent to the current agenda, staff to provide updates on projects or issues, and the Public to comment on any issues with their opinions (for or against) actions that are being considered.  This document will explain how OpenMeeting can help you plan and control these speaking opportunities.   

We’ll assume here that you’ve picked a meeting from the Home / Select Group / Meeting screen within the Meeting Manager and have started this meeting. If you have any questions about preparing, or loading/starting meetings, please see the following links: 

Details / Sequence of Events 

Most often, you’ll create an agenda with specific Agenda Items where speakers are formally or informally recognized to speak in an orderly fashion. The following are examples, but you may have other such agenda items where speakers are invited to provide input.   

  • Invocation or Pledge of Allegiance – may be performed by a local celebrity 
  • Public Comments 1 – opinions on issues related to the current agenda 
  • Public Comments 2 – input on any issues the public would like to address 
  • Educational – detail from experts on pertinent topics being discussed 
  • Member or Staff Reports – May or may not be set up with time limits 

For purposes of this document, we’ll address one of the above examples, but handling public speakers for any of the above examples would work quite the same, especially where you choose to (or not to) establish speaker time limits.   

Public Speaking Agenda Items 

EXAMPLE 1 – Public Speakers Pre-established on the Agenda 

You may have a rule where speakers may pre-establish their intent to speak, PRIOR to final publishing of the Agenda. In this case, you would list those speakers within the formal Agenda, in the order they will be recognized to speak, as well as the topic or intent of their comments. 

Listing Speakers In your Agenda Item  

Prior to your meeting, when setting up your agenda in the Agenda Editor, you would list the speakers within the Agenda Item Summary as shown on the following sample from within the Agenda Editor: 

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Item Summary – List the Speakers 

Often, you may have speakers pre-approved (or signed-up) to speak. Here you may wish to list the speakers in any fashion or order you wish.  This list can then be displayed on the Public Display while the speakers are recognized.  

Display Public Timer for Speakers 

Check this box on the Agenda Item IF you want speakers to have a designated time to speak.  This is optional but helps provide equal time to all speakers as well as helps control your meeting length. 

Show Summary – The List of Speakers on the Public Display 

Check this box IF you want what you have keyed in the Item Summary (i.e., the List of Speakers) to display immediately when discussing this Agenda Item.  This too is optional, and if not checked, the Clerk can manually show the summary on the Public Display at any time during this item discussion by simply pressing the “Maximize Summary” button within the Meeting Manager. 

If you need any more detail regarding the Agenda Editor, please see the following document links: 

Public Display – Showing the List of Speakers 

Assuming you are progressing through your meeting and are in Discussion Mode on a Public Speaking Agenda Item, the Public Display will show as follows if a) you’ve checked Show Summary on the Agenda Item set-up OR b) the Clerk selects Maximize Summary manually from within the Meeting Manager.  In addition, this example displays the Public Timer which was checked when setting up the Agenda Item (per the example screen above).  

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Controlling the Public Display and Speaker Timer 

The Clerk can control the Public Display shown above directly from the Meeting Manager when this agenda item is in Discussion Mode. The Meeting Manager screen will look as follows and the Clerk controls are described below it. 

Timer Controls 

Directly during discussion of this item, the Clerk can control the Timer, which is displayed on the Public Display.  The Clerk can change the “default” Speaker Time (in this case 2:00 minutes) to any duration desired, Start the timer when the speaker is ready to start speaking, Pause the timer at any time (i.e., the speaker is interrupted), and Reset the timer to the default when the next speaker is recognized and ready to speak. All of these actions will be reflected on the Public Display. 

Public Display Controls 

During discussion of this item, the Clerk can control views on the Public Display by using the following control buttons.

Maximize Timer

This button allows the Clerk to make the Timer large (full screen) on the Public Display. The Public Display example further above shows it smaller in the right corner, which is the default size. By choosing Maximize with this button, the Timer will show “Full Screen” if that view is preferred. 

Maximize / Minimize Summary

This button is used to display or not display the Agenda Item Summary Narrative (in this case the list of speakers).  Minimizing the Summary will end displaying the List of Speakers (in this example) and revert the Public Display back to the list of members and their activity.  For example, if one or all of the speakers are finished and the Members wish to have discussion of that speaker’s presentation, the Clerk would select “Minimize Summary” to show the Request to Speak activity taking place by all the members on the Public Display. If discussion is complete, and another speaker is ready to speak, then the Clerk could select “Maximize Summary” to again show the list of speakers (in this example) on the Public Display.   

EXAMPLE 2 – Public Speakers Randomly Requesting to Speak 

In situations where you have an agenda item that is established to allow the public to speak to the Members about any or random issues they would like to have aired, and you don’t require a pre-meeting sign-up, the following will help you recognize and document the speakers that come forward.  When you enter Discussion Mode for this Item, the Public Display may look like the following: 

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Log the Speakers Identity for Display on the Public Display 

If you wish to log each speaker’s name and any other information about them to display to all on the Public Display, you would do the following in the Meeting Manager (as shown on the screen further below): 

Using the Agenda Item Editor

Select Edit (upper left) to open the Agenda Item Editor Window 

Make entries into the Item Summary area of the Agenda.  These may me the speakers Name, Address, and topic they are speaking on (or any detail or summary you wish).  

Select OK to save your entries (i.e., the entry of the 1st Speaker OR perhaps after you’ve keyed in all the speakers that have come forward). 

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Maximize / Minimize Summary

On the Meeting Manager, then select Maximize Summary after making your edits in the Agenda Editor and this will then display the 1st (or all) speakers information on the Public Display. 

Timer Controls

You can then operate the Timer Controls as explained in Example 1 (above) for each of the Speakers OR not use them if that is your choice. 

Follow the above sequence as each speaker is introduced and assuming you had 3 Speakers, the Public Display will show as follows with each of your speakers listed.   

NOTE:  That all of the information you entered (i.e., each speaker and their information) will be fully captured in your Results file automatically, so it will be available to you as you finalize, approve and post the meeting minutes. 

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Using the NotePad to Log the Speakers Identity WITHOUT showing on the Public Display 

You may feel it’s NOT necessary to log and show each speakers information on the Public Display, however you usually do wish to capture the same detail (as shown in the above example) for your Minutes. You can easily do this within the Clerks Notepad after each speaker identifies themselves and as they are speaking. 

Select Open Notepad instead of Edit Agenda Item. This will open your personal Notepad where any meeting minutes or other information may be keyed in and saved to the Results. Notepad entries are “private” and never show on the Public Display. For example, after keying the speakers’ information, your Notepad entry will look similar to the following:  

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Select Close Notepad and your entries will be saved. The Public Display will not display Notepad entries, but they will be fully captured as part of the Results file for reference in finalizing, approving, and posting the Meeting Minutes.  

Notes / Special Situations  

If you are having issues that are not successfully addressed above, or you are not successful signing into Meeting Manager, please call OpenMeeting Customer Support at 320.249.0555.