Online meetings can be a little different than normal in-person meetings. It can be a little harder to maintain your leader’s focus when they are sitting face to face with a computer screen. Below are 7 tips that will help you conduct effective online meetings (also works well for any meeting, in general!) with your small group leaders:
- PREPARE THEM.
Communicate in advance with your leaders so they can be prepared for the online meeting and will be encouraged to share ideas & participate in the discussion. When you send out a new meeting invite, in addition to the specific details (day, time, link to the meeting), include a basic agenda as to what you’ll be discussing. You might include a Scripture passage for them to reflect on, or some questions for them to consider, so they can have time to prepare and come eager to share! Lastly, it might be helpful to include any helpful online tips (such as making sure you have good lighting, a quiet environment, and being mindful of using your mute button if you aren’t speaking, etc…), especially if you have new leaders who are unfamiliar with using online platforms. Knowing all these things ahead of time will help the meeting go much more effectively!
2. ENGAGE LEADERS.
Involve your leaders in your meetings! Don’t try and do it all – engaging your leaders will make them more committed to attending, but will also make them feel valued. They can share and learn from one another. The following are ways you can engage your leaders during your online group meetings: invite someone to open with a brief devotional or personal sharing specifically related to their group (what is working for their group currently, what is a new thing they’ve done as a group, etc..). Invite someone to lead a brief connection activity among the leaders (maybe something they’ve tried and found successful in their own group). Lastly, you can select leaders to record notes of the meeting; and to help in the prayer time.
3. BEGIN AND END WITH PRAYER.
Always include prayer, before your meeting begins, and at the end. To make the prayer time more effective (whether online or in person), it is always beneficial to have a plan: will you collect prayer requests ahead of time, or during the meeting? How long do you plan to allocate to prayer during your meeting? Will you open it up for everyone to pray (as they feel led) or will you select a few leaders to pray for the group as a whole? Knowing these details in advance will help your prayer time flow smoothly, and increase the effectiveness of the meeting.
4. TAKE TIME TO CHECK-IN.
Begin your meeting by showing your care for how they are doing, and take the time to check-in with them personally. This will allow you to connect with leaders on an individual level (if you have a large group, you can break out into smaller groups, perhaps with the help of your care team/shepherd team, whatever you use). This is helpful to you as you can learn a lot about people from what they share, and you’ll have a better understanding of where your leaders are at in the midst of these times and how you might better help them. One of the check-ins we did recently was simply sharing one thing we MISS and one thing we DON’T miss in these days of COVID-19. You learn a lot about your leaders using this!
5. STICK TO THE AGENDA.
You sent out an agenda in advance, so do your best to keep to it. Leaders have come prepared with ideas and insights they may have spent time preparing. This isn’t the time to throw something new into the mix. Share what you need to and encourage input from leaders. Respect people’s time – be sure to start and end on the designated time.
6. WHAT’S NEXT?
Always have a plan – next meeting/time, etc… so your leaders can mark their calendars.
7. FOLLOW UP.
Shortly after your online meeting, be sure to follow up with your leaders. You can provide a written summary of what was discussed and shared in your meeting (perfect opportunity to invite a trust-worthy leader to record notes for you during your meeting!), which might be helpful for leaders to review, and also important for anyone who was unable to attend. Follow up on any questions or ideas that were brought to attention during the meeting, and invite anyone to share any further input, having some extra time to reflect upon the meeting itself.