Thriving group sessions online

Margo Groeneveld
10 May 2020

In these times we are being forced to work online, wether we like it or not. And facilitating meetings online with bigger groups is simply harder then when you hold them real life. Picking up on body language, spotting people who are holding back and getting a ‘feel’ for what’s really going on is so different. So how to transform life meetings into thriving sessions online?

After setting a time and date (max. 1 1/2 hour), here are some guidelines to support groups to thrive while meeting online:

1. Call your people to create an agenda.
Talk to some people involved to get input on the agenda. Relevant questions are for example: What’s going on for them, both professionaly but also personally? What would they like to get out of this meeting? What is their perspective on what’s going on? How does that fit with the bigger picture? And create an agenda, containing just a few items, based on these conversations.

2. Facilitate the call.
Have the call. You can skip the introductions and hello’s (you have called the people 😉 ). And lead the group into the agenda. Figuring out who’s turn it is to talk can be awkward, so these kinds of calls require more of a facilitator kind of role to manage the flow of the conversations. Ideally, this is someone who can lean back from the conversation itself.

3. Be courageous, stay with the unknown
In these times, there might be questions and problems that are unclear and/or do not have an immediate solution. And that’s okay. There is so much knowledge and experience within a group. The proces of talking through it, learning from each other and building the connections has a world of value in itself.

4. Provide in-between and a final wrap-up
To close an agenda item, provide a quick summary of the most important points that have been discussed. This allows to check for agreement on the most important points. And if something is missing, people can provide that.

5. Call again to write a wrap-up
There most certainly will be items that might not feel fully adressed, or people who you feel have more on their mind. You might want to check in with a couple of people if you understood them correctly. So again, call some people (preferably also some others as you did before) to verify how they feel how the call went.

And then, use the wrap-ups and the feedback on the call to write a wrap-up e-mail. Enjoy your session!