COVID-19 Announcement

Participate in Great Decisions Discussions Remotely by Phone or Computer. 

As many groups now look to meet remotely due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, we at the Foreign Policy Association would like to provide a guide to three of the most popular online meeting platforms. Zoom, Webex and Google Hangouts all have free plans that users can access and host their discussion groups remotely. Below is a quick explanation of each platform.

Zoom allows ytou to dial into a meeting with a regular phone, no computer required. They provide a free version of their service that participants can access either online, through their smartphones (via the Zoom app,) or by dialing-in to the meeting by phone.  Zoom free limits group meetings to only 40 minutes, which can help facilitate a structured discussion after the participants already read and watched the materials. Zoom can host meetings that are both audio or video and can host up to 100 participants at a time. Visit for more information or to register

.Google Hangouts is a web browser extension for Google Chrome web that participants that use or download Chrome can use for free. The extension allows for the creation of a “hangout” that group leaders can manage and invite the group participants to. The hangout allows for real-time video and audio chatting and conferences, along with a discussion thread for participants to use for comments and questions. You can access Hangouts from

Webex from Cisco has a free version of their service that participants can download onto their computers or smartphones. Webex allows you to meet with up to 100 participants at a time and for as long as you want. You can share files such as PowerPoint presentations, graphs and images to your meeting participants using their message and file-sharing system. Group leaders or speakers can also set up Webinars, where you host a presentation that is recorded and made available online. For more information on Webex, you can visit


Other services like Skype, Slack, and Blackboard also provide free and paid versions of software that can help facilitate remote group discussion. 

Here are some tips to help your remote group run more effectively:

  1. Plan out your meetings (Consider sending an agenda out to participants)
  2. Collect questions in advance
  3. Leave time at the start to allow for latecomers
  4. Focus more on discussion time then using the meeting to present only
  5. Allow time during your presentation for a comments section


Please not that we are providing access to the Great Decisions 2020 television series on YouTube for participants to access from home at no cost during this public health crisis. You can now access hours of content from experts on topics ranging from climate change to global health, all from your computer or mobile device.

Tips to help keep the discussion going:

  1. Make sure to mute yourself on whatever service you are meeting on when the presentation is happening. 
  2. Maintain etiquette: trying to talk over someone during a conference call or online meeting makes it more difficult for participants to understand each other.
  3. Continue the discussion: just because the meeting is over doesn’t mean that the discussion must end. You can use chat functions or breakout sessions certain services to keep in contact with other group members and continue the discussion after any meetings.
  4. If you have supporting materials, make us of screen sharing functions

If your group has any tips or online content you would be willing to share with the Great Decisions community, please email [email protected]


For any questions on remote software or the Great Decisions program please email [email protected] or call 212-481-8100 Ext. 391.


Additional Resources

Kristen Klein, “Best Practices for Hosting a Digital Event”  (

David Spinks, “ A Comprehensive List of Tips, Tools, and Examples for Event Organizers During the Coronavirus Outbreak” (

Joshua Kim, “7 Best Practices for COVID-19 Necessitated Online Meetings” (

Tips on using Zoom's screenshare function: