10 Tips for an Awesome Online Group Experience

So, you want to host a group online but you’re just not sure if you’re cut out for it. We’re here to help! Hosting a group online, just like in person, doesn’t have to be scary, intimidating, or complicated.

Now, one thing I want to emphasize above and beyond anything else is that the best practice of all is to cover your group in prayer. Before you begin, pray for each person by name. Then invite the Holy Spirit to move and work in and through you and in the hearts of each group member. Pray, pray, pray!

Now that we’ve established the non-negotiable of prayer, here are 10 tips to set you up for a successful and vibrant online group experience . . .

Best Practices

  1. Recommend your group members download your meeting software prior to the meeting time.
     
  2. Make sure your face has sufficient lighting.
    • Lighting works best in front of your face, not behind.
       
  3. Make sure your face is centered in the video camera.
    • Your group doesn’t want to see your forehead, or neck, or miss you altogether.
    • Position the camera eye level or slightly above.
       
  4. Select the quietest room or location you can find.
    • Turn off anything making noise in the background (TV, Bluetooth speakers, appliances, etc.).
    • Put pets in a different room or have them in a place where they’ll be the quietest.
    • Noise canceling headphones are helpful if you have them.
       
  5. Only use one device per household.
    • When two devices are used in the same home, it can produce feedback (really annoying noises).
       
  6. Mute your computer unless you’re talking.
    • If everyone’s microphone is turned on at the same time, the sound quality can be an issue making it hard to hear the person who is talking. So, the best policy is to mute yourself when you’re not talking.
    • Practice active listening skills. If you’re muted, make sure to nod your head and listen well so people know you’re tracking with them and listening.
    • You will be muting and unmuting A LOT, so get used to it.
       
  7. Be an assertive moderator.
    • As a host, you will need to be welcoming, hospitable, and in charge.
    • Make sure as host you jump on a few minutes early to welcome everyone.
    • Redirect the conversation or mute participants as necessary. This may feel rude, but it’s necessary to manage a good online experience.
    • The moderator should talk 20% of time and listen 80% of time.
       
  8. Create a plan for participants to indicate they’d like to talk.
    • You may try something like raising a hand, answering in a specific order, or another signal.
    • Since participants will often be muted, having a plan will help you know when to mute and unmute.
       
  9. Give participants your full attention, don’t multitask.
    • When you’re not fully paying attention, it can be a big distraction online just like it would in an in-person group.
    • When talking, spend some time looking at the camera, not just the screen!
       
  10. Stay in touch afterwards.
    • Assign prayer partners to call each other after the group is over so they can pray with them.
    • Text each other in gender specific text chats to share requests.
    • Leverage GroupMe, Facebook Groups, WhatsApp, etc. as a place to stay connected and keep the conversation going throughout the week.
    • Consider doing a Bible reading plan with friends on YouVersion.

How to Host an Online Group   

Experiencing Community in a New Way   

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.