Due to the coronavirus pandemic, video conferencing tools will play an integral part of us remaining connected as church communities.
Some of the platforms that you may be familiar with are Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Skype and Webex. These and many others are easy to use and most often free of charge and can be used through desktop and laptop computers, tablets and smartphones.
In order to get you going, we’ve compiled the following list to make your leap into cyberspace as pain-free as possible…
Choose a platform
There are a number of FREE applications you can use to meet with people across the Internet.
Each application operates slightly differently, but they all provide the ability to have a video / sound online meeting, as well as send and receive chat messages with each other.
You can have 1-on-1 meetings or can have anything up to 50 people in a single meeting.
All of the applications can be installed on your phone (Android or Apple), on your iPad or Tablet, on your computer – or all of these.
It’s important to understand that the people you intend to meet with online all need to use the same application.
Choose from one of the following applications to install and use (click on the link to go to the website for each application to explain how to install, configure and use the application).
With the exception of Apple FaceTime, all of these applications can be installed on Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac computers, all mobile devices (Android or Apple) and iPads or Tablets.
- Apple FaceTime – (supports Apple devices only)
- Cisco Webex
- Microsoft Skype
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Duo
- Facebook WhatsApp
- Google HangOuts
Test your internet connection
In order for any of these platforms to function effectively, it’s important that every person using them has a fast and stable internet connection. These apps will work using the 4G network, though please be advised that video conferencing can consume significant amounts of data.
Use a Camera
To make the most of any video conferencing platform, it’s important that the device you’re using to access it has a camera. If there is no webcam built into your laptop or connected to your desktop computer then you might have to resort to using a tablet or smartphone. You can still use video conferencing platforms without a camera, though it does mean that those who you are meeting with will not be able to see you.
Also, be mindful as to how you place your camera – if the angle is too low, then people might have to look up your nose for the entirety of the meeting! Similarly, a camera placed that exposes other things happening in the background can become distracting (you may well be familiar with the video below).
So that you are clearly visible to those that you are meeting online, it is important that you sit in a well-lit area. Also, keep in mind that it is best not to sit in front of large windows or other light sources as these will create an unsightly silhouetting effect.
Make a date
Finally, it’s important to select a date or even plan out an ongoing set of dates and make these know to others. Whichever online meeting platform you choose they will all have functions built into them that automate the invitation process, and alert via email all of those that you want to in attendance.