Online video chats or meetings may be new territory for you as a youth leader or co-ordinator, so we’ve provided some tips for before and during your meetings.

Note: These tips are mainly for ZOOM users, however, many of the functions may apply to other video conferencing platforms.

 

BEFORE THE MEETING

 

1. Schedule your meeting

Scheduling your meeting ahead of time allows you to send out the link a few days before the meeting, as well as on the day, to ensure no one misses out on the meeting because they couldn’t find the link to access it. To do this on ZOOM, go to the Home tab and click the Schedule button, enter all your meeting details and click Schedule. A window will pop up with an invitation that you can copy & paste into an e-mail or Facebook event.

 

2. Manage who comes into your meeting

You can manage who can go into your meeting in two main ways.

POINT ONE is setting a Password for the meeting. When you schedule a meeting in Zoom, you have the option to tick the box ‘Require Meeting Password’. You can use the automatic password created. The link that you copy and paste to send out once you have scheduled the meeting will allow participants to access the meeting without the password, but setting a password ensures people without the link can’t access your meeting. What happens if an unwanted guest gets the link?

This brings me to POINT TWO – Enable the Waiting Room. Enabling the Waiting Room allows you to let individuals in one at a time by clicking Admit next to their usernames, only admitting those whose usernames are recognisable. If an unknown username enters the Waiting Room, you can check who they are with your co-leaders or other youth who’ve already entered the meeting. If nobody can confirm who they are, our advice is to not let them in until their identity is confirmed, especially if your meeting includes Under 18s.

To enable the waiting, click Advanced Options when setting up a scheduled meeting, and locate the tick box. It can also be enabled once the meeting has started by clicking Manage Participants on the bottom bar, and click the more options button ‘…’ on the bottom right of the screen (ensure ‘Enable waiting room’ has a tick next to it.

Note: You also have the option of using the Lock Meeting feature, but this isn’t recommended, at least for the first 30 minutes of your meeting, because it will block out latecomers.

 

3. Setup your computer in an appropriate environment

When setting up your computer/laptop for a meeting, make sure you’re setup in a place that is reasonably quiet and separated from the rest of the people in your household. Make sure there is decent lighting in the room and no distracting mess in the background of your camera frame –  this reduces the chance that the participants will get distracted. Messy piles of clothing and an unmade bed  Dirty clothes in a pile, an unmade bed,

 

4. Test your audio and video

Make sure you’ve selected all the right settings for your audio and video devices to avoid technical interruptions. It may be best to use headphones for the meeting too, so that you yourself can hear all the participants clearly.

 

DURING THE MEETING

 

1. Meet with your co-leaders at least 15 mins beforehand

Enter the scheduled meeting room at least 15 minutes beforehand with your co-leaders. Start the meeting and when your co-leaders enter the Waiting Room, click Admit next to their names to let them in. Run through the schedule for the meeting and pray as a team together. You may also wish assign your co-leaders as Co-hosts of the meeting, which will give them the ability to Admit people into the meeting, Mute people or Remove people. We highly recommend you assign a co-leader or upcoming leader as the Co-host, so that you can focus on MCing the meeting, instead of having to worry about who may be waiting too long in the Waiting Room.

 

2. Introduce everyone at the beginning

Even if most people in the room know each other, there may be a few people who don’t. Start off the meeting by facilitating a round of quick introductions, and it’ll help create a welcoming environment and get the ball rolling.

 

3. Look into the camera when talking

With so many faces on the screen, it can be hard not to look at the people you’re talking to – but if you’re the leader, talking to your youth group, it is important that you remind yourself to look at the camera. This form of communication already has a sense of disconnectedness, but direct eye contact into the camera while speaking gives the participants the impression that you’re looking at them. It’s important to gauge reactions by looking at the faces on screen, but alternating that with looking at the camera will makes your participants feel like you’re really talking to them.

 

4. Mute and unmute participants often

Video calls can get very busy and noisy when there are 5 or more people in a meeting. This is where the MUTE button comes in handy. As the Host, you can mute all participants at one time, and unmute one person to allow them to speak. This is an important tool for when the MC or speaker is talking or especially leading prayer, or when one person in the group is sharing (i.e. in small groups). If you notice the noise of the group isn’t that bad at the beginning, you may wish to keep everyone unmuted during the talk so the speaker can hear participant reactions (i.e. laughs or expressions of agreement), but be sure to mute again when the background noises get too distracting. In Zoom, you can hit the Mute All button in the Manage Participants tab.

Helpful Hint: M is for mute. Press Cmd+Ctrl+M (macOS) or Alt+M (Windows) when you are the meeting host and want to mute everyone else on the line.

 

5. Stay until the end
Just like a regular in-person youth meeting, usually the leader is the last person to leave. The same applies for online meetings – when your meeting ends, say your goodbyes and wait until everyone has left the meeting before hanging up. This allows participants to get any final words in before disconnecting, and ensures every person who came feels like you wanted to be there, plus leaving your own meeting before others is like leaving your own party, right? When there is one other person left, then it is a good time to  click End Meeting and then End Meeting for All.