As the new groups season approaches here’s some thoughts that could help if your group will be meeting on Zoom. (I can honestly say there are a number of reasons I like Zoom better than live!)
Here are my top ten favorite Zoom features.
1) Simultaneous Response.
When in a Zoom room every single participant can respond in the chat at the same time. I love the level up of engagement. Try questions like these:
- Choosing from a list. “Of the items mentioned which one stands out to you and why?” The list could be anything, but people have to review the topic to share their responses. This encourages more interaction with the material and also usually sparks good discussion and often a new perspectives.
- Ranking connection. “On a scale of 1 – 10 with 1 being a little and 10 being a lot where would you rank yourself?” Again, everyone has to think through, apply the concept to their own life, and choose where they fit.
- Making a list together. Ask for ideas of how to apply the principle, or ways people deal with the issue poorly or well. Concurrent engagement is powerfully connecting.
- Picking one option. Of the three choices which one resonates most for you.
Each of these opportunities allows for multiple people to respond at the same time. For years my classes were only on Zoom and I didn’t realize all the benefits it had over in-person gatherings. When I came on staff at Worship Center and started teaching more live classes, I found it tricky to engage all the people in a group when they had to respond one at a time.
Try the chat feature – even in your small groups, it can be great for short responses.
There is a tab called reactions at the bottom of each Zoom screen where you can click and the handclap emoji, or the “win” emoji and add it to your square for a moment. This is a great way to affirm something the speaker is saying without using sound to interrupt.
The speaker can also ask for visual responses. “Raise your hand if…”, or “Wave at me if…”, I guess you could do those live as well, but it seems a little more natural online to me.
Many of our more sensitive Support & Recovery groups have had a lot more engagement since they moved online. I think some of these groups will not move back to meeting live when they can.
I’m also thinking that people who are hesitant to join such a group, or even a regular Community Group, might be more likely to try it if they can join from their own home and feel safer if they know they could leave the meeting at the click of a button.
4) No distance barrier.
We can meet with people from anywhere all in the same Zoom room. This is HUGE for people who would like to be in a small group or a certain class but live a ways away. There is no distance barrier when we meet together online.
5) No travel time.
To get to the meeting room, you just click. To get home, you just blink and you are there.
6) Minimal prep needed.
The host does not need to do any special cleaning or cooking to prepare for guests.
7) Personalized snacks.
Each participant can have whatever they want just how they like it. No extra expense is incurred. There is no need to inquire about gluten-free or lactose intolerant snacks. And there is no pressure to partake. (For some this can be tricky.)
8) No germ sharing/natural social distancing
Not long ago, I would never have thought to list this as a value add, but it seems a pretty important one right now.
9) Break out rooms.
To my knowledge Zoom is the only online video host that allows people to split up into smaller groups for discussion. This works great for a class setting, but could also be used for community groups. You can use the random setting, but I prefer manually choosing who goes together. It only takes a minute and it a nice way to connect in pairs or smaller groups.
These smaller groups can discuss a topic or answer a question without moving to another place, being too noisy or worrying about others overhearing the conversation.
10) Childcare is not the deal maker or breaker.
For some families, having childcare available is the determining factor. While it may not be ideal to have your kids in another place in the house at the same time you are in a group, with a little creative thinking it might just work.
- The time the class is offered could be set a little later so the kiddos are in bed.
- Maybe class time could be a special movie time for the kids.
- Sometimes an older child could watch the younger ones if there were adults in another room in the house.
Often times an online gathering is less disruptive than driving somewhere and potentially messing with the bedtime schedule.
One final thought – you’ll probably enjoy your Zoom meetings a LOT more if you practice this one tip.
Bonus tip: The culture of honor.
Done well the culture of honor includes everyone sharing and heightens the participation level. This is best done by ALWAYS having the host or leader choose the first person to speak and then norming that the sharer chooses the next person. That simply sounds like, Alex, can you start?” This avoids two people starting to share at the same time or wasted silence when no one is sure who is supposed to go next.
Remember, if you choose Zoom the people there are real people too . I know you can’t hug them, and it is different than connecting live, but let’s take stock in all the positive features Zoom offer and keep meeting together whether in person or online!