Zoom and Microsoft Teams are the 2 main systems that come to mind if you are planning either a hybrid AGM or virtual AGM. Many organisations already use MS Teams internally, but is it more appropriate than its main alternative, Zoom? In this document, we explore and consider the use of each system in the context of an online AGM. Please note this excludes the use of any 3rd party add-ins or built in apps that may enhance various features that come as standard.
Here is a summary of the security in place for both systems:
- Microsoft Teams uses multi-factor authentication encrypted data transmission (TLS and SRTP) to protect its users. Also, end-to-end encryption can be enabled to further secure communications.
- Zoom uses 256-bit TLS and AES-256 encryption which is deemed to be the current standard for web-based systems security. In recent times Zoom has implemented new security features to address any security concerns, including optional end-to-end encryption, new layers of verification and waiting room screening.
In summary, the security implemented for both systems likely exceeds the needs of any online AGM or other General Meeting process. As the General Meeting is an external process it can be disconnected from any internal IT system and run as a completely stand-alone event, meaning any security concerns are mitigated as no corporate IT connection is needed.
Both Zoom and Teams can accommodate large numbers of users for an online AGM. Costs may vary, so make sure you have paid for the appropriate pricing plan to cover the maximum number of users (attendees or voters) expected.
There is always a trade-off between high-quality video and internet bandwidth, i.e. if your attendees/members have a low-speed internet connection then it’s better to have a lower-quality video feed so that their experience is better. Teams uses 1080p HD by default and uses AI to adapt the user experience and Zoom uses 720p HD by default, but this can be lowered to 480p or increased to 1080p using settings. The higher the setting, the better the video quality will be when streaming your AGM.
Other issues relating to video quality relate to the number of people you can see on screen at any given time. Zoom can use a ‘speaker view’ whereby only the speaker’s video is shown to attendees, particularly useful for low-speed internet connection users.
We believe that Zoom offers a better video user experience due to the settings that can be chosen, although we are impressed with the AI aspect of Teams.
Attendees using Teams to join your online AGM will need a Microsoft registered account. Zoom AGM attendees can either join using a simple link by just providing their name or complete a registration process (depending on the Zoom meeting settings).
Control of microphones
To gain control of attendees’ microphones in Teams you will need to apply specific settings when creating the meeting event to permit you to do so, by having everyone join in an ‘attendee role’. This gives the organiser permission to control attendee microphones to be either muted or unmuted. In Zoom the host of the meeting has control of the attendees’ microphones by default during the meeting. If preferred, when setting up the meeting the organiser can specify that all Zoom AGM attendees arriving are muted by default.
Both systems have comprehensive chat functions that can be enabled or disabled before, or during the meeting. Please note that moderation of chat which is open to all, will not be achievable.
Allowing attendees to ask questions and hear answers is a critical engagement process for any General Meeting process. Both systems allow for a raise hand function, whereby attendees can indicate that they may have something to ask, especially if all attendees are muted.
Both systems have a moderated Q&A feature. In Zoom you would need to use the Webinar variant which has a specific Q&A feature that sends a typed message to a ‘panel’ which can be moderated before being answered. In Teams, you can choose to enable the Q&A feature when setting up the meeting via the meeting options, and then select the ‘In review’ option which allows for any submissions to be moderated by the organiser/co-organiser.
Zoom has a poll function which you would need to set up prior to the online AGM. Teams allows for polls to be set up and run during the online AGM, but group chat must be enabled to do this.
Whilst the poll function is useful, it is not deemed appropriate for a General Meeting as all attendees have the option to vote (including observers), it doesn’t account for any weighted votes and doesn’t account for any proxy voting processes. Therefore, using an independent scrutineer and secure voting system would be needed. Zoom allows for 3rd parties to integrate Zoom into their platforms, whereas Teams needs 3rd parties to create systems that are embedded within the Teams platform. In our opinion, Zoom offers a more flexible choice for integration and seamless user experience.
Recording the meeting
Both Zoom and Teams allow for meetings to be recorded, and if required transcribed. Whilst transcription may sound useful, the interpretation of what is said at the meeting is not always accurate, and for a reasonable length meeting the size of the transcribed document will be quite large.
Many organisations will record the video and audio of the meeting and publish it on their web pages afterwards for members who did not have the opportunity to attend to view in their own time.
Both systems are comprehensive and secure, however both have differences in how your online AGM or General Meeting will be administered, and what the user experience will be. There are many articles on the internet indicating that Teams is great for internal use, and Zoom is better positioned for external events, we agree. There were some initial security concerns around Zoom a few years ago, and we can see Zoom have improved security considerably to mitigate these issues. Taking into account, low-speed internet users, users that may not be technically minded and the ability to easily integrate 3rd party voting solutions, Zoom has the edge over Teams.