Holding Online Meetings - Human Considerations

silhouettes of children in front of a globe covered by a network

Because hospitality is important to human relationships, learning how to host in online spaces is essential. People come with different levels of experience and comfort, and may have online habits (surfing, multi-tasking) that could distract from connection. Here are some tips to help host an online space that can help build connections.

Understand Your Needs

Different kinds of meetings will need different platforms and features. Is it a one-on-one, a group, an information session or a spiritual experience?

Know Your Technology

  • Get your computers, webcams, and headsets together and try a dry run with a friend or two. Practice muting and unmuting people, sharing and unsharing the screen, showing video (including sound) and other features you plan to use.
  • Test your internet service to make sure you have enough bandwidth for video and audio.
  • Sign on early to do one more sound and video check with your presenters and helpers. Close other programs on your computer so notifications don’t pop up during the meeting to distract you. Make sure you have your presentation or other visuals ready.
  • Use a headset with a microphone. This will greatly improve the sound quality for your participants

Set Up Your Space

  • Check the lighting. Webcams are completely unforgiving about too much or too little light. Don't be in front of a window.
  • Get close enough to the webcam that your face takes up most of the vertical space in the window, and point a light at your face if needed. If you are using a tablet or phone, position it so that your face is not at a strange angle.
  • Your background should be as neutral as possible. Darker complexions show up better with darker backgrounds. Sometimes backlight will improve the look of your video.

Companion Those Who Need It

  • Offer help to those who aren't tech-saavy. This would be a great opportunity for intergenational interaction.
  • Crowdsource old laptops or cell phones for those who can't afford the equipment.
  • For shut-ins or nursing homes, send someone with all of the needed technology and host a small group viewing party.
  • (During pandemics, be sure to practice good hygiene during any in-person interactions.)

Practice Presence

  • During the event (streamed worship, meeting, webinar) maximize the application and close all others so you are not tempted to multi-task.
  • The worship leader(s) can develop a practice of presence by developing an intention and embodiment of connection to those who are on the other side.

Camera tips for Online meetings

Helpful Practices for Virtual Meetings (2012)

This older video still has some helpful tips!

About the Author

Renee Ruchotzke

Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) is a Congregational Life Consultant and program manager for Leadership Development.

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