Recording: Cultivating an Offline Community Online

Carrie Melissa Jones shares some best practices and tools for setting boundaries and creating safe spaces at online events.


Community strategist, consultant, and researcher, Carrie Melissa Jones Zooms with Dan Pardes (VP of Product) about cultivating an offline community online. She shares some best practices and tools for setting boundaries and creating a safe space for all attendees.

Carrie is a 15-year veteran in leading communities. She has built and advised hundreds of online communities, from political campaigns to top consumer brands to tech startups.

Main Takeaways

  • As online events become more prevalent, we’ll see fewer people attending events just for the sake of attending events. This is why it’s important to think about the value you can bring to your members. Don’t just host an open discussion, think about the purpose your event can serve.
  • When switching from an in-person to an online event, remember you’re serving a very different population. If you can’t do the exact same activities as before, you can hold conversations around that or related topics. Your members can also continue the activities on their own and share that experience with the group. 
  • Carrie also recommends trying different online event platforms to find one that works well for your group. For starters, she suggests giving Toasty and Icebreaker a try. (We’ll be adding compatibility with Meetup soon!)
  • “I want to give people encouragement more than anything else.” People need the work that community organizers are doing. But being an organizer can be emotionally taxing. While creating a safe space for members, it’s also important for organizers to take care of themselves too.

Top Q&A Questions

How do you control the conversation when you’re on a large online call?

  • My limit to having people on the microphone is about 15. And I will mute people if I’m hearing too much noise. You are the facilitator so it’s important to keep an eye on what’s distracting people from being there and present. It can also help to find someone else who wants to help facilitate the conversation. 

There are so many online events, how do I make mine stand out?  

  • Go niche! I always tell people to go more specific. Also, if your group can fit an urgent and immediate need for this time, start by focusing there. 

It takes 20 minutes in my online meeting just for everyone to introduce themselves, any advice?

  • It’s highly dependent on how many people you have, but if you have 30, please don’t have everyone give an introduction. You can have people share one word or facilitate some activity. For example, I had my participants write down how they were feeling on a sticky note and hold it up to the camera at the same time.

How should we help new members feel welcome?

  • One of the things we’re trying to do, especially in a new relationship is to remove uncertainty. So the more relevant information you can provide, the better off they’ll be when they get there. Because uncertainty makes people, as we all know right now, stressed out. 

Last modified on June 23, 2021