We are facing many uncharted challenges with everything going on in our world right now. The current “social distancing” will eventually help eliminate the spread of Covid 19, but it is no doubt having a large impact on the way everyone lives their lives. The way we are able to interact as Connection Group Bible Studies is no different. Having groups online is definitely a different experience, but I believe that God can use this time to strengthen our connection to each other. After talking with many of our leaders and doing a fair amount of research, I have put together a list of helpful hints that can help enhance your group’s overall online experience.
EXTRA COMMUNICATION PRIOR TO YOUR GROUP MEETING
One of the more difficult challenges people are facing right now is the loss of connection. Phone calls and text messages may seem simple, but every connection we can make with people means so much right now! Take a moment each day to connect with someone in your group to see how they are doing.
CHANGE YOUR SETTINGS IN ZOOM SO YOU CAN SEE EVERYONE AT ONCE
The default view is “Speaker View.” This rotates the main screen between whoever is speaking at that time. By turning this off you can see everyone at one time. This helps it feel more like it would in a group setting. Simply tap the “GRID” icon in the top right corner of the Zoom app.
TAKE A FEW EXTRA MINUTES TO CHAT AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH MEETING
Taking some extra time at the beginning of our your meeting will help “warm up” the conversation.
DON’T LET PAUSES THROW YOU OFF
Since we are not all in the same room, it is easy to miss when someone is about to say something. Consequently, we are SLOWER to talk. Don’t let awkward pauses in the conversation throw you off. Feel free to jump in and share your answer and that will help keep the conversation going.
MUTE YOURSELF UNLESS YOU ARE TALKING
Even when people aren’t talking, the background noise coming from everyone’s home creates a noisy environment that can make it difficult to hear when someone does talk. Simply muting yourself when you aren’t talking cuts the majority of this out. Having to mute and unmute yourself multiple times through a conversation may seem cumbersome, but it is worth it so people can listen and understand each other.
RAISE YOUR HAND TO INDICATE YOU WANT TO TALK
This may seem a bit silly, but it can be a big help, especially to your leader! Talking over each other is awkward in real life; online it feels even worse. Doing something as simple as raising your hand helps ensure everyone gets a chance to speak and no one gets left out.
GIVE YOUR FULL ATTENTION TO THE GROUP
No multitasking! Groups online require more focus because we aren’t physically together. Resist the urge to check Facebook while you are meeting online with your group.
BE SURE YOUR CAMERA IS TURNED ON
People are more motivated to talk when they know they are being listened to well. Nodding while people are talking and showing with your body language that you are focused really helps foster conversation. You can also utilize the chat feature to share agreement or post questions for the entire group. The reaction button is a great way to “put up” a clap or thumbs up.
USE A QUIET ROOM WITH NO DISTRACTIONS
It’s probably best to meet in a room without the TV going. 🙂 You wouldn’t turn on a movie in the middle of someone talking in your living room. It’s best to avoid it while meeting online.
ONLY ONE DEVICE PER HOUSEHOLD TO REDUCE FEEDBACK
If you have two devices going in close proximity to each other it creates a very unpleasant feedback loop. It’s better to have multiple people using the same camera rather than multiple devices within ear shot.
USE HEADPHONES THAT INCLUDE A MICROPHONE
This helps eliminate background noise and keeps the microphone closer to your mouth. It also helps eliminate weird feedback that is caused by your computer picking up your voice coming from your mouth AND your speakers. Even inexpensive headphones help out a lot!
Not having childcare available has been difficult for some groups that usually rely on it. Putting on a movie or something for the kids in another room may be helpful. Depending on the time your group meets, putting them down for bed may also help the parents focus a bit more. Also, be flexible. Kids are kids and even if you do everything you can to help them stay quiet for an hour, you will still probably have to help them out a few times. Don’t let that keep you from meeting. The struggle is real, but it is worth it. We as parents especially need connection with adults, even if it does get interrupted a few times.
As an honorable mention, don’t forget to do your lesson ahead of time. 🙂