You’ve finally got your small group to meet online, but it’s absolute chaos. Everyone is talking at the same time, some are still trying to log on, some look like they’re doing something else, and some are yawning. (Or, worse, everyone looks bored and no one wants to speak.)

Necessary restrictions implemented to combat the spread of the Covid-19 have changed the way we meet as small groups, encouraging many to try out new apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and BlueJeans. But, as many leaders have discovered, holding a group meeting via video conferencing has its unique challenges.

Here’s 5 ways to make your meeting productive and meaningful.

Get prepared early

  • Get your group members to download the meeting software at least 30 minutes before meeting, so that they have time to work out any issues with connection and the technology.

Be an effective moderator

  • Be welcoming but stay in charge. Log into the “meeting room” a few minutes early to welcome everyone.
  • Facilitate the conversation. Set simple ground rules, such as asking participants to mute their microphones when they are not talking. Or you might want to tell them that you, as the host, will mute their microphones at times so that everyone can hear one person speak clearly. Invite participants to give their full attention and to resist the urge to do something else while listening.
  • Generally speaking, try not to talk more than 30% of the time; you should aim to listen 70% of the time.

Make clear how participants can indicate that they’d like to talk

  • Since participants will be muted most of the time, have a plan on when to mute and unmute.
  • You could suggest that participants signal their intention by raising their hands, or by having them answer in a specific order.
  • Use the “chat” feature to post questions for discussion.
  • When talking, spend some time looking at the camera, not just the screen. This digital form of eye contact goes a long way in creating a sense of connection.

Keep the meeting to not more than 1 hour

  • Being on a video call can require more focus than a face-to-face chat, as we need to work harder to pay attention to non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language. So keep the discussion short, sharp, and sweet.

Stay in touch afterwards

  • Assign prayer partners to call each other after the group meeting is over and pray together.
  • Use other social messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Telegram to stay connected and keep the conversation going throughout the week.


How about trying these tips out? Check out our new Small Group Discussion Guide, Together Alive! Rediscovering Community Living in God’s Family. Discover fresh insights on what a church community looks like and discuss how you can apply these lessons together.

Discussion Guide for Small Groups

Together Alive! Rediscovering Community Living in God’s Family

Download and use this group discussion guide to engage your small group on how you can be a part of the church community.

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