There are many tools available on the market to allow meetings to take place remotely; Facetime, Skype, Zoom, Teams (previously Skype for Business), Gotomeeting, Cisco Webex and many more.

You need to consider certain factors to ensure that you are using the correct tool.  Number of participants, length of the meeting, additional tools required i.e. screen sharing, whiteboard etc.  As an example, Zoom offers a free product.  One:One calls are free and have no restrictions, however for calls including 3 or more people, the maximum length of the call is 40 minutes.  You may wish to purchase a ‘commercial’ package, depending on your need.  With Zoom, and some other software,  the online package includes a webinar facility.

Reasons for using an online meeting tool

  • Small group numbers
  • Remote & Rural locations
  • To suit the personal circumstances of participants
  • Cost implications
  • Safety

When to use an online meeting tool?

  • Time that suits everyone
  • Evenings or weekends
  • At a time there will be no interruptions
  • Bad weather prohibits attendance

Barriers to using an online meeting tool



  • No travel expenses
  • No time away from home
  • Other uses i.e. Adult Training
  • Becomes part of Group/District/Regions’ budget (replacing travel expenses)
  • Office 365Nonprofit plans (offers more that an online meeting facility)

No Internet?

Mobile Broadband

  • Works on 4G signal
  • Many of the mobile providers
  • Contract or pay as you go
  • Becomes part of Group/District/Regions’ budget (replacing travel expenses)
  • Can also be used to set up Adult Training Modules / courses online

Example: EE mobile broadband.  Device is £40 – yours to keep – monthly plans but can cancel with 30 days notice – prices vary depending on volume of data required.  50GB is £45

How to use on online meeting tool?

  • Face to face video calls with a number of participants
  • Audio calls can also be made using these tools
  • Screensharing
  • Can be used to deliver Powerpoint Presentations
  • Whiteboard facility – this could be used instead of a flipchart – this one is InVision – may be additional costs. Some software has an inbuilt whiteboard facility i.e. Zoom
  • Some software allows calls to be recorded – time limited but could be used for a future audience or for those who are unable to join the meeting (GDPR implications)
  • Online learning (additional use)

Things to remember

  1. Not everyone will be competent in the use of online meeting tools

You may wish to prepare a quick guide to using the software you decide on using.  Many providers offer online learning tools in the setting up and using of the product.

  1. Identify everyone in the room in advance of the meeting

Don’t assume that everyone knows one another

  1. Distance between participants and screen

Make sure your participants are sitting at an appropriate distance from the screen to see and be seen

  1. Check video and audio – volume is important

Ask your participants to check their audio and video in advance of the meeting to ensure they are familiar with the controls and can adjust where necessary

  1. Don’t put your hand over your mouth (or lean your chin in your hand) when speaking

This distorts the audio, particularly if you have a poor internet connection

  1. Try to maintain eye contact – make the person(s) feel part of the discussion

Ensure control of the meeting, inviting one person at a time to make their contribution

  1. Email handouts and a copy of the slides in advance

Technology may let you down on the day!

  1. Don’t use posters / flipcharts on the walls – they may not be visible to the participants

If you are calling from a larger venue, a Scout Hall, for example, and are using written examples of work attached to flipcharts, pinned to walls etc, participant may not have a clear view of the text – consider sending out written copies of the work prior to the meeting

  1. Additional benefit if using for Adult Training; Online learning – work through an online learning module with a participant – you can answer any questions at the time


Online resources