Guidance for conducting virtual SA Meetings

posted Apr 4, 2020, 5:05 PM by SA TwinCities Intergroup   [ updated Apr 4, 2020, 5:05 PM ]
With the recent guidance from MN Governor Tim Walz to stay home many of our in person SA meetings have been cancelled or are now meeting virtually. 

The decision to suspend meetings, deploy alternative solutions, etc. is at the discretion of each individual SA group.  Per tradition four:  “Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or S.A. as a whole.” In keeping with that tradition SA Twin Cities Intergroup respects the autonomy of each group and encourages each to use their judgement for how to best serve the members of their group.

To facilitate remote meetings, the following resources have been useful for other groups in the area. This is by no means a comprehensive list nor an endorsement of the listed products. Please do your own research and respect the principles of anonymity that are core to SA as a whole.

Meeting types
Groups conducted remotely need a medium to connect people together. Available options are through phone dialing or through video/audio conferencing through a computer, browser or smartphone app.

Phone dial in
The most universal method for joining people into a group is the phone. Typical methods are to use a conference bridge service. With a bridge, people all dial into the same phone number and are joined to the same call. Some services use a special code that is entered after the service picks up the call to allow the dialer to enter the meeting. Some services charge for service, others are free for limited usage.
Some options:
  1. Uberconference
    1. Free for up to 10 participants
    2. $15/month for up to 100 participants
    3. Also has video conference option
    1. Free to host calls & video conference
    2. Optional paid version starts at $3.95/month
Video calls
Video calls have audio and video options. Many have phone dial in capabilities as well as connecting through a computer or smartphone app.
  1. Google Hangouts
    1. Can use the same URL for every meeting
    1. The most popular video app these days. Full featured
    2. Free for 100 users but limits meeting to 40 minutes
    3. $15/month for Pro edition
  3. Skype
    1. Skype has free Meet Now. It's a nice free service, but it's a unique URL to start every meeting, so cumbersome for regular calls.
    1. Very similar to Zoom in capabilities, full featured.
    2. $15/month to use it

Meeting formats
You'll want to adapt your face to face meeting to a virtual meeting format.
For dial in calls, it is challenging to know who's in the call and when people want to speak. Without visual cues, people tend to talk over each other, get confused and frustrated. To facilitate this change, the leader can learn from the many online meetings held around the world. See tips here
A couple techniques we've found useful are:
  1. List of people to share in order:  Have the leader create a list of people as they join the meeting. The leader uses this list to organize who shares in which order. When the sharing time is to begin, the leader reads the list of names as the order in which people will share. When the member finishes sharing they say "I pass to <next person>." So if the order is Joe than Sue, when Joe finished sharing he would say "I'll pass to Sue." If the person forgets the order, the leader prompts the next person who then shares or passes to the next person.
  2. Timekeeper for shares: The leader elects a time keeper and divides the time for sharing by the number of people in the group. The leader announces how much time will be allotted per share. The time keeper sets their timer at the beginning of each share and announces when the time is expired.
  3. 7th tradition donations are usually not possible in online formats. So many people suggest donations to SAICO through their website