Review our handy guide for hosting an online discussion that’s fun, inclusive and free from distractions.

Hosting a Hoovie movie conversation online with friends (and sometimes strangers) should feel fun and easy. But if it’s your first time, and/or your group is large, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed.

Here, we share a few things we’ve learned hosting our own virtual gatherings for creating engaging group discussions.

1. Permission to take charge. Video chats really benefit from a host who isn’t shy to take the lead, ask lots of questions and call on people to speak.

2. Tap a friend. Before the event, ask a friend to be a “plant” to speak up first to break the ice/get the ball rolling.

3. Pass the baton. Sometimes it’s awkward to speak up on a group video chat. One way you as the host can help is to call on one person to speak, then invite them to call on the next person, and so on. This gives everyone has a chance to share. This technique works especially well for intros.

4. Share the spotlight. Be careful not to speak for too long and monopolize the conversation – it’s easy for a host to do when you’re anxious people are being too quiet. Just trust your guests, let them ease into the conversation at their own pace, and use conversation prompts to draw them out. Silence can be fertile.

5. Hand signals. For larger group, it might be useful to introduce hand-signals at the beginning. For example, “speak up” (raise hands, palms up), “slow down” (lower hands, palms down), “appreciation/agreement” (twinkle fingers instead of clapping).

6. Reduce background noise. Ask people to mute when they aren’t talking, and don’t be shy to mute their mic for them if they have a ton of background noise. They can always un-mute themselves when they’re ready to speak again or the noise has passed.

7. Avoid backlighting. Make sure your face is well lit.

8. Reduce the risk of technical difficulties.

  • Update and restart your computer ahead of time.
  • Quit all non-essential apps and browser tabs.
  • Ask other people who share your Wi-fi network to avoid streaming, syncing or downloading during your event. (Why not invite them to join you instead?!)

9. As soon as the credits start rolling, be ready to meet your guests back in the Zoom room as soon as the film ends.

10. Have fun!