Your Step-by-Step Guide to Hosting a Virtual NIM
Apr 30, 2020
After hosting a member-wide virtual NIM (Neighborhood Information Meeting) earlier this month (and an entire conference the month before), we've learned a thing or two about hosting virtual gatherings. In this guide, we'll share our tips for hosting your own online NIM with family and friends, including selecting a topic, sending out the invites, and using our ready-made resources.
- Select a topic. Every month this year, MWEG is releasing a new discussion topic that is relevant to our members and country at large. You can find these topics in the MWEG Portal (create a free account here!) under two different resources: Year of Ethical Government and Protecting Democracy, with a new Protect the Vote NIM coming next week!
- Select a video conferencing platform. We recommend platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, or any other video conferencing tool that allows screen sharing. Both Zoom and Google Meet offer free versions, but they come with different restrictions. Free Zoom meetings are limited to 40 minutes but come with a link anyone can access as well as a call-in audio line. Free Google Meet meetings have no time limit (until the end of September), but they are only accessible to people with a Google account.
- Invite your guests. Pick a date and time that works for you, then invite friends, family, and neighbors to join in the discussion. Don’t forget the women in your local MWEG chapter! Set up a FB event or keep it casual with a text or email. Not sure what to say? Here’s some sample text:
Mormon Women for Ethical Government created a guide on [topic here] that I’ve been reading through the past couple days, and I’ve learned some interesting things. I’m going to hold a little virtual discussion on it on [date and time, plus time zone!] and would love to hear your thoughts on it — like a book club but with less reading? 😀 We all could use a little more adult interaction these days, and I really value your thoughts and opinions. I’ll send you the meeting link and discussion guide if you’re interested. Hope to see you there!
- Look at and distribute the materials. Now that you’ve got your guest list going, it’s time to take a look at the materials.
- Year of Ethical Government: This section has discussion materials on freedom of the press and media literacy, combating government corruption, and the environment and sustainability. Each topic comes with presentation slides (be sure to download them in advance); a PDF discussion guide handout with thoughtful questions, activities, action items, and more; and a video presentation of the slides with no audio, for those who feel more comfortable presenting with that format.
- Protecting Democracy: This section currently has resources on the 2020 census, including a narrated video overview, discussion questions, action items, and a reference list with articles and websites you can go to for more information. (You’ll also find themed invites that you can use online or in print.)
- Protect the Vote: This section will be launching next week! Join us for a member-wide virtual NIM on Wednesday, May 6, at 7PM MT to get a sneak peek at all the materials.
- Complete the final details. The beauty of a virtual event is that you can see friends from near and far with hardly any prep — you don’t even have to clean your house or make any treats. An hour or so before the meeting, send the meeting link to everyone who expressed interest. A few minutes before the event, plug those headphones in (it helps keep the audio clear), join your meeting through the link you shared, and wait for the rest to arrive. While you’re waiting, open the slides you previously downloaded on your computer, and locate the “screen sharing” button.
- Host the meeting. Here are a couple tips on running a meeting smoothly.
- For groups with more than four in attendance, encourage guests to mute themselves until they have something to contribute.
- Take advantage of the comments section. Most video conferencing platforms have a comments section where guests can chime in with additional thoughts or share links to related media.
- If video or audio is garbled, ask guests to turn off their video camera to lower the data load. They will still be able to participate in the discussion and view the slides you are sharing on your screen.
- Review the slides and PDF handout beforehand, looking for questions and resources you would like to highlight or discuss, and make notes in MWEG’s chapter meeting outline in the downloads section here.
- Thank everyone for coming, and complete the survey! After the presentation share the survey link below with your guests. Complete the surveys promptly so we can continue to improve and create materials that meet your needs.
Invite guests to check out some of MWEG’s other resources and then ask when they want to meet again!
We know that discussing topics of a political nature can be tricky, especially in the hyper-politicized culture we live in today. But when we stop using our voices, and when we stop listening to those around us, we also stop understanding each other. The gap becomes wider. We designed these Neighborhood Information Meetings with our six Principles of Peacemaking and Principles of Ethical Government in mind, and we hope they will help each of our members to share good information and think deeply about complicated issues.