Stay connected during this time of social distancing. We have tools for your Small Groups and Discipleship relationships, prayer and support, and resources available.
SMALL GROUPS & DISCIPLESHIP
Make sure you are staying connected with your Small Groups and through Discipleship! Click below for our suggested virtual gathering tool (Zoom) and some tips on how to use it!
8 Cardinal Rules Of Running A Virtual Meeting
By William Vanderbloemen
There’s a list of stocks I wish I had bought two months ago: Clorox. Whoever owns Purell. Cruise companies (kidding). But most of all?
Coronavirus has brought a brand-new world of handwashing, sanitizing, avoiding travel and … working from home. The term is “social distancing,” but the reality is, we are all having to figure out how to relate from a remote setting. I wonder how many people will have to figure out their first set of video-based business meetings from home in the next weeks?
Here’s what I’ve learned: running meetings via video just doesn’t come naturally. I run an executive search firm, and for over a decade, we’ve been experimenting with and using remote interviewing, conducting somewhere north of 20,000 face to face interviews with candidates, with many of those being through some form of video conference.
It’s actually comical how many mistakes we have made with technology over the years. And even now, with a whole lot of practice, it’s amazing how many times we will see those same mistakes made by candidates or clients when they aren’t familiar with this medium. So if you’re fumbling around trying to figure it out, you’re not alone.
Since a lot of the world is having to figure out how to meet virtually, I thought I’d share some of our best practices for having a meeting (or an interview) when you cannot be face to face. I found out nearly every one of these tips the hard way, but I hope that my learnings can help you adjust faster:
1. Pick a solid platform
If you’re trying a platform (or if your employer has mandated one) that seems to be buggy, here’s a newsflash: they all are. We have lost count of how many different products we have tried, and we never could find a seamless one. If you can pick your platform, I’d go with Zoom. I don’t own their stock (but man how I wish I had bought it back in January!), nor am I paid to say that. I’ve just found the hard way that it’s the best option out there, hands down. The connection is smooth, the number of participants can be high, and you can record the whole meeting.
2. Test your equipment and your connection speed before the call
I don’t want to know how many hours I have lost in my life to starting a call and one party or the other spending the first 15 minutes of the meeting saying, “Is this thing on?” I’ve found that if it’s a critical meeting, I avoid Wi-Fi and stick to an old-fashioned hard line.
3. Insist on video
Can you imagine calling a face to face meeting and starting by putting a curtain down between you and everyone else? That’s what you’re doing if you “just go audio.” I used to say, “I’m turning off the video so I don’t use too much bandwidth, and so the call quality is better.” Nowadays, that’s just not true. What I found that really means is, “I want to have this meeting but not have to be seen.” Yes, if you’re on video, you will be watched. That’s the idea. If you’re worried someone will see you pick your nose, remember nobody is supposed to pick their nose anymore. If you’d rather just have a phone call so you can “multitask” during the call, it may be time to reevaluate how necessary the meeting is. Virtual meetings require vigilant and singular attention — almost more focus than if you were in person.
4. Don’t hit mute
Far too many times, I’ve said some of my smartest things when I unknowingly had the mute button on. I know it seems kind, but it’s actually counterproductive. My friend Bryan Miles, who co-founded Belay Solutions, a virtual staffing company, says they have found that if you hit mute in a small meeting, you will actually keep real conversation from happening, even when you’re trying not to be a nuisance. He says they have found that anything under a dozen means implementing their “nobody gets to mute” rule. That means everyone has to participate, and it also means nobody can be participating in other meetings (like answering email) when they should be giving undivided attention to the meeting.
5. Dedicate space
Too often, people assume working remotely means working from wherever and whenever you want. Not so. I’ve found that virtual work requires more discipline. Find a dedicated space where you cannot be interrupted by children, spouses or other distractions. I love your family, but I don’t want to hear Netflix or Fortnite during our work or interview. And as much as I love dogs, I hate hearing a barking (or even, yes, snoring) dog on a call. Intentionally create a workspace that is just that.
6. Check your angles
During your test, see how you look! Sounds simple, but the natural angle of a laptop camera means that the camera is looking straight up my nose and along my chin (it usually adds a couple of chins to me). Natural computer lighting makes me look washed out and overly blanched. Sometimes, I’ll interview people who are in front of a sunshine-filled window. And while the golden halo around a head looks nice in Renaissance art, it’s annoying to the person you’re meeting with. Check ahead of time, and I bet you’ll be able to improve what the default settings look like by adjusting your angles and lighting. Don’t forget to mind (and maybe even change) your background. I can’t tell you how much I learn about a candidate I’m interviewing by what books, trinkets (and even posters) are on the shelves behind them. One friend told me about a meeting he had with a co-worker where the co-worker was in a hotel, and the background mistakenly included his wife getting in and out of the shower!
7. Work from home, but dress for work
Telecommuting is NOT a synonym for casual working, nor is it permission slip for working in your bathrobe. You will work better if you get dressed for it. On top of that, people on the other end of your call will take you more seriously. Sounds crazy, but I’ve actually had a couple I was interviewing answer their video call from their bed (they said they were reading, but I just cannot unsee them). On a more serious note, deep V-neck t-shirts and strapless tops can and often do make people look topless on a screen. That’s rarely a good look. The bottom line, if you want to be treated like a professional, follow your team’s dress code even while working from home. This is super important in sales meetings and cardinal in interviews.
8. Small details can make a big difference
Here’s a quick list of little details that will improve your virtual meetings: Use headphones (but not your kid’s Mickey Mouse ones). When possible, use an external microphone if you have one. Don’t have Venetian blinds behind you (the light moving in and out of them wreaks havoc on the other person’s display). Close competing applications on your screen, and throughout your house (again, the kids’ Netflix and Fortnite). Mute your computer and phone alerts for texts, emails and other notices that might go off during the meeting. And please don’t spin on your rolling desk chair. It looks weird and sounds like an earthquake on the other end. If you’re having to learn the virtual world, please learn from my mistakes. Until this coronavirus has passed, we are all adjusting to a new normal. I’m hopeful that some of these practices will help you look like an old pro in our brave new world.
Instructions on how to use Zoom to Connect with your Small Group.
Set up a Zoom Account
Before you can get started, you need to create a free account. You can sign up for a free Zoom account and download the application on to your computer at https://zoom.us/.
Start a Meeting
The next step in using your Zoom account is to host a meeting. You do this by clicking Host A Meeting in the top right corner. Select With Video On to see everyone in the meeting or choose With Video Off to hear audio-only.
Invite Others to Join Your Meeting
You are now ready to invite people to join your meeting. You start by clicking the Invite option. After clicking invite, there are three ways to invite others to join.
- Clicking the Copy URL button, then paste the URL into an email message to the participants you wish to invite.
- Click the Copy invitation button, then paste the message into an email to the participants you wish to invite.
- Click one of the email service buttons. Your chosen email service will appear with a preformatted invitation.
Once a person has received your invitation, they will need to create a log-in for zoom. Then they can join your meeting. Once they have joined the meeting you can begin to enjoy a time of fellowship online together.
GUIDE TO GATHER BY TECHNOLOGY FOR JOHNSON FERRY
OPTIONS FOR GATHERING THROUGH TECHNOLOGY (PHONE/DESKTOP)
1. Zoom: www.zoom.us/home
This is the tool that I’ve seen the most success with group meetings to date. Up to 100 people may
participate in video conference, with options of being on video or off. I would not recommend more
than 8 people meeting in this format unless it is to listen to a primary speaker. People may call in to
join the meeting without video capabilities as well. Will require download of app to use on the phone
and a quick download of software for laptop. You can break off into smaller groups from larger group
if you want. Free version available for calls under 40 min -> full version is $15 per host per month.
Zoom is popular because it is easy to use and has great functionality. BEST FOR LARGER
GROUPS (>5 MEN)
2. Webex: www.webex.com
Up to 100 people may participate in video conference, with options of being on video or off. People
may call in to join the meeting without video capabilities. Will require download of app to use video
conf on phone and a quick download of software for laptop. Free version available, but could cost
$13.95 per host per month.
3. Google Hangouts: www.hangouts.google.com
Simple tool, but works best if all users have a Gmail account. 10 people may be in video call together;
Will require download of app to use on the phone. It is web based for laptops. You email them the
link, and they can join the meeting. BEST FOR SMALLER GROUPS (<5 MEN)
4. Facebook Messenger: www.facebook.com
6 people may be in video all together. Simple for groups of people that all use Facebook, but you
have to add people/dial-in to get started. Will require download of Messenger app on the phone. This
one is a little harder because you add one person at a time, and they may not answer.
5. Skype: www.Skype.com
This allows for 10 people screen sharing on a group call, with a maximum of 25 people in the call. Will
require download of app on the phone and software on your laptop. There are paid services for
adding conference lines as well.
The top two have the most functionality and allow for people to come in and out of the call without disturbing
the group. Zoom allows you to break off into smaller groups as well for prayer or discussion. Google
Hangouts is a good free solution for video calls. It’s not hard to sign up for a Gmail account, and it works well
(especially on Google Chrome when signed into Gmail).
1. Phone conference lines can be expensive. There may be a guy in your small group who has access
to a line that can be used. The video conference tools above have Voice only options as well, but are
not as simple as dialing a number and a code.
2. FreeConferenceCall.com: www.freeconferencecall.com
You sign up for an account with an email/password or Facebook account. They ask you to contribute
a $ each month or select $3.95 option that eliminates a commercial that is heard before you join the
call and gives you a steady number/PIN that the group calls every time. Nothing is ever truly free, but
this is a simple way to do it.
30 FOR 30 CHALLENGE
April has 30 days, and we want you to join us in committing time to pray for 30 interrupted minutes in the month of April. No phones, no devices, and no distractions. Just you and the Lord for 30 minutes for the next 30 days. Below is a prayer guide that includes 21 days of prayer that you can use any days throughout the month. Let’s make April the most powerful month of prayer Church at The Mill has ever experienced.
PRAYER AND SUPPORT
We understand that the COVID-19 situation caused some concerns, stress, questions, and additional anxiety, so we want to continue to minister as much as we can. If you need prayer or need to talk to someone, please fill out our prayer request form or call the front office at 864-576-7548.
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