Starting Your Group Off Right
Several days in advance, send an email inviting members of your group to join you. Include:
- Attachments and links to any information that they will need for the discussion
- Links to the online meeting space (Google Hangout, Zoom, or FaceTime) and instructions for accessing the space
- Remind them to check out the instructions and space at least 30 minutes before using it for the first time
- The phone number of someone in your group who they can call should they have issues accessing the space. This is a great time to share responsibilities with other members of your group!
- Prepare your content/lesson just as you would if you were meeting in person
Things to Remember
- Find a quiet spot to sit. This may prove challenging with kids or pets running around, but it will help you better focus on the conversations you’re having. If you do have children, you should let them know what you’re doing ahead of time and close the door behind you.
- Set up your computer on a level space such as a desk or table and in a spot where the light is overhead or in front of you, so people can see your face. If the light is behind you, your face will appear dark or lit up only by the screen.
- Look to see what’s on the walls or in the room behind you because that’s also what others will see.
- Sit close to your device. Just as you want to see and hear those on the other end of your video calls, they want to see and hear you, too. Some good suggestions are to sit in a natural position, keep the video at eye level, and place your computer far enough away to see your shoulders and the top of your head.
- Make sure you’re in a spot that maintains others privacy (not a public place or a room where others, who are not participating, can hear the conversation), and remind your participants to do the same.
Time to Host a Group
- Welcome them! Be the first one signed in so you can welcome everyone.
- Encourage people to keep microphones live for the first few minutes as they connect and get used to the new technology. You might have them say their name and answer a question (How are you coping? How is your family? Where have you seen God working?)
- Show them around. Take time to explain all of the features: where they can see who is participating, where to mute themselves, how they can set up captions, and how to open a chat room if they need to share a question with the group. (see instruction links below)
- Remind them to mute their sound if others are talking or if there is extraneous noise behind them.
- Let them know that they should interact with others who can see them by nodding their head, raising their hand, showing a thumbs up, etc. It lets the facilitator know everyone is participating.
Taking Care of Business
- Share your lesson/content with the group.
- Encourage others to unmute themselves to talk.
- Initially, you may need to keep an eye on those who look like their lips are moving but they’re still on mute. You will also need to wait a minute after asking a question to allow people time to unmute themselves. Eventually, you will get a great rhythm for how it works.
- Unmute microphones at the end for prayer requests and other conversations.
- Celebrate your success in hosting an online Small Group/class. Anything new is challenging and stressful. You and others made it, and it will only get easier and more comfortable.
Get Them To Join You Again
- Send an email to thank them for joining you and trying something new. Remind them that anything new is challenging, but it will get easier and more comfortable over time.
- Consider creating an email and cell phone directory for everyone to stay in touch.
Free Curriculum Ideas
Video Conference Tools
- Google Hangouts (up to 25 participants via video)
- Zoom (limit 40-minute meetings and up to 100 participants)
- FaceTime (for participants with iPhone, iPad, or Mac computers) — up to 32 total participants