7 Tips for Gathering Your Small Group Online

These days, online is the new normal! The Propel Women team understands that in the midst of a global crisis, you are looking for creative ways to stay connected with your community.  Although we must practice social distancing, we don’t need to be socially isolated. Now more than ever is the time to gather together – with technology’s help.

Propel Women has over 4,000 registered Propel Leaders around the world. While many of these women facilitate small groups that meet in person, a handful have spent several years perfecting the art of the online gathering. 

Whether you are gathering a group of friends, family, co-workers or neighbors together, use these connection tips from Propel Chapter Leaders to bring your online group together: 
 

 
Propel Chapter Leader Dana Stephens Popham on her top tips for making an online small group successful
.

 

See online as an opportunity.

For many of us, life is usually hectic. Our schedules are filled with chauffeuring children, completing assignments, running errands, and hustling and bustling from here to there. Things are different now. Yet even as the way we live, work, and relate to one another changes, remember that gathering online can be a powerful opportunity to connect with those who otherwise would have difficulty attending.


 
Zoom is a great resource for hosting online gatherings.

If this is your first time using Zoom, host a practice call with a friend or family member so that you can get familiar with how it works and the tools that are available. Practice sharing your screen, switching back to video, and using the chat feature.

Propel Chapter Leaders also recommend encouraging your group to launch Zoom from their desktops, not their smartphones, if possible. This leads to a smoother meeting.


 
Find a book or curriculum that will strengthen and inspire your group through this time.

Although there is a range of wonderful digital studies to choose from, these are the top downloadable studies that Propel Chapter Leaders are currently recommending to each other:

•  Wisdom Conversation Series
•  
Influence Conversation Series
  Personal Leadership Conversation Series 



Be prepared.

One way to avoid awkward transitions during an online meeting is to prepare ahead of time. 

If you have any videos you are going to play, make sure they are directly downloaded to your computer before you begin. If you will be sharing your screen (which is a fantastic feature to use in Zoom), keep in mind what tabs and documents are already open. 

Also, email ahead of time any PDFs or documents you want others to reference during the meeting. Any resource you or your group will be using during the meeting should already be sent to your group members and/or downloaded to your computer. 
 


Welcome everyone as they log on.

Keep in mind this online platform may be new for some people. Be sure to log on at least five minutes early to interact with anyone who jumps on. You can also be on standby for anyone that reaches out with technical issues. Say hello to everyone as they join in either through the video stream or in the chatbox!

  

Honor everyone’s time.

While the majority of individuals are currently staying at home, time is still precious. When you are leading an online gathering, the best way to keep everyone engaged is to be intentional to honor everyone’s time. 

Once all of the participants are tuned in, make a statement letting them know you are aware that time is valuable and share how long the meeting will last. Keep in mind that an hour online—especially if you are watching a video—is different than an hour in-person. It will fly by, so you want to start your meeting promptly.

  

Mute mics when needed.

By now, you may have seen the funny videos circling the internet of people who forgot their mic was on while they were in an online meeting. Make sure that everyone is muted so that background noises are not picked up. 

As the host, you can mute someone—and that’s totally okay! If you are facilitating discussion, women can turn their mics on and off as they chime in. 

Our hope in sharing these tips is that your group—whether new or formed long ago—will find ways to grow and connect like never before. 

 

---

Many thanks to Nikki Dutton and Dana Stephens Popham for bringing this guide to life.