Indivisible groups meet regularly to plan events, dig into issues, and build community. Since the pandemic, a lot of groups have moved to virtual meetings (at least some of the time). When done right, virtual meetings can be an effective way to hold our elected officials accountable, build a more inclusive democracy, and be in community with our fellow activists.
Luckily, we have a variety of technology to help make a virtual meeting both possible and effective.
However to really maintain that community feel of your group -- and particularly for larger events or events with new members -- video conferencing will be best. If you are a Gmail Customer you can use Google Meet for free for up to 500 people and includes features like chat, screen share, and whiteboards. At Indivisible, we use Zoom for most of our large calls. Zoom offers free calls for up to 40 minutes for up to 100 people. If you’re hosting a larger/longer call, reach out to us and we can get you set up!
Brainstorm creative event ideas
Get extra creative about the types of events you want to set up. Most things that you could do in person you can find a way to do over a video conferencing system too. We’ll share some ideas, but tag @IndivisibleTeam on Twitter with your ideas too so that we can help uplift best practices.
- Ice cream social. Everyone brings their favorite ice cream (or dessert) to the event and you can spend some time at the beginning just socializing and eating your treat before jumping into the real meat of the meeting.
- Pet playdate. One great benefit to remote meetings is that pets can join (without causing any allergies or issues at the venue). Take a fun break in the middle of your meeting to have folks introduce their pets.
- Cooking together. For a smaller gathering that’s focused on team building, you can all pick a recipe and then cook it “together” - just at your respective homes and see whose recipe turned out best.
- Cocktail hour. Start off or end your event with conversation and cocktails/mocktails -- or you can also make it just a social event, building your community is a key part of strengthening your group.
- New member social hour. Virtual events are still great opportunities to bring new members into your group. You can set up a larger new member orientation followed by some smaller group conversations to get to know one another.
Set your event dates and times
Once you’ve settled on some event ideas, treat a virtual event like you would an in person event! It’s still important to schedule it out in advance and consider what days and times are most accessible for your current members and new members.
It’s just as important to put in the time recruiting folks as it is with an in person event. Set up a Facebook event, email your list, make calls (particularly to new members), ask your members to make calls, reminder folks to invite friends and more. We use EveryAction here at Indivisible and offer this group management tool and database to groups so If your group is currently on EveryAction, start reaching out! If not, work with your organizer to get set-up.
On the day of your event
Good news, you don’t have to worry about setting up a room or getting anywhere for these events. However, it is still important to plan out a clear agenda and be very mindful of how you’re making everyone feel included. Here are some tips:
Collect attendee information
Depending on the software you’re using, you may need to jot down everyone who joins the call (but some call systems capture this for you). If you have a large event, consider setting up a google form so that attendees can fill out their contact information.
Icebreakers are always a great idea, but particularly when you don’t have the opportunity like you do in an in person meeting for small talk before things get started. For a smaller call, you can have everyone go around and answer a question (ie* what’s your favorite ice cream, guilty pleasure TV show or check these out). For a larger call, if you have the option to do ‘breakouts’ you can pop folks out into smaller groups. If that’s not possible, have a few people raise their hands to answer the icebreaker.
Introduce new members
Make sure new members feel really welcome and know that everyone is enthusiastic for them to be part of the group and to get to know them. Ask them to introduce themselves and maybe share a few fact/why they’re excited to be part of Indivisible (you can give them a heads up before the call so that they’re not put on the spot and let them opt-out if they prefer).
Call to action
Keep your group engaged and feeling like they’re still making an impact by having a clear call to action (see ideas above!). You can tell folks they can do this once the event is over or create that community feeling by staying on the line and working together.
Don’t forget to follow up to thank all your attendees for joining and invite them to your next event. Usually the best way to really connect is through phone calls, so block off some time to call through your attendees (or delegate that to others in your group). These calls are a great opportunity to get to know your group members and collect feedback on the event. You can supplement those calls with a follow up email to everyone who joined as well.