How to Run Large Zoom Meetings: 5 Best Practices for Businesses, Churches, Etc.

Zoom screen shot.

We have entered the age of Zoom.

Forget other videoconference programs: they’re slow, buggy, and hard to use. You spend half the meeting trying to get everyone connected. We’ve tried them all, and we’ve found that Zoom “just works.”

It’s great for small teams, but it gets a little more challenging for larger griefs. In this CoCo brief, we’ll talk about 5 best practices that we’ve learned from an unlikely source: The Union Church in Newton, Massachusetts.

The Union Church has been successfully running their Sunday services on Zoom, with upwards of 100 attendees per service. What’s working for them can also apply to your business, community organization, or larger team meeting.


Best Practice #1: Put large groups on mute. Once you get over half a dozen people, the background noise level gets distracting. If you try to mute people one at a time, you’ll end up playing Whack-A-Mole. Mute everyone from the beginning, explaining what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. (“We’re muting folks to keep down the background noise, but we’ll give you opportunities to talk and participate.”)

Best Practice #2: Mix up the presenters. At the Union Church, the senior pastor starts off presenting, followed by musicians, then lay leaders, then back to the pastors. This keeps the meeting flowing. Avoid one person talking for a solid hour; make it a team effort. (You may want to rehearse.)

Best Practice #3: Encourage questions. The “Chat” function in Zoom allows attendees to type in a question, and “Raise Hand” allows people to ask a question verbally. The Union Church uses these for moments of interaction (like taking prayer requests, or letting people ask questions during a sermon).

Best Practice #4: Allow moments of interaction. For example, the Union Church has a “greeting time” where everyone comes off mute, and folks can say hello. They do the same at the end of the meeting, an informal time where people hang out for up to half an hour. It’s noisy, but it works.

Best Practice #5: Keep it short. Our experience is that even in the best Zoom meetings, people start to fade after 45 minutes. Try to keep larger meetings under an hour. Remember that people can close their Zoom window anytime; a leader’s goal (like a TV show host) is to keep them engaged until the end.


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5 Business Best Practices During the Coronacrisis:

> Consider running an “open Zoom room” where you just hang out with other people while you work.

> Consider running “Zoom lunches” where you all eat together and chat.

> Consider pranking your fellow Zoom attendees by private messaging them silly messages.

> Consider buying Zoom stock. (Up 15% since we recommended this on March 20!)

> Spend 10% of your time helping others.


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