Approaches to address barriers

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1. Planning the meeting


  • Allow more time for yourself and participants to address these challenges. This includes time for people with less technical experience to get to grips with using the technology.
  • Plan the meeting with breaks and interactivity
  • Come with a sense of humour
  • Offer participants a pre-meeting walk through of the technology if they are new to it.
2. Technical set up
  • Optimise sound (e.g. use headphone), lighting, background
  • Rehearse to check technology is working and that any interactive exercises work as they should
  • Use Mute when participants are not speaking
  • Encourage participation through Chat and Emoticons
  • Use Hands so that everyone gets a chance to have their say
  • Use Breakout function for smaller groups if need be
3. Create a safe online space

Confidentiality measures are especially important in an online group environment. (see: section on confidentiality)

    • Advise users not to use their work accounts or to sign into the Teams or Zoom app.
    • For maximum security they should join the meeting using their first name only.
    • You should make participants aware that any comments they enter into Chat will be permanently saved on your platform. You might want to make it a rule not to use Chat.


It is good practice to ask participants to have their cameras on during a session, so that it is clear no outsider is listening in. Be aware that for people with social anxiety or body image issues, having their camera on and seeing their face for an hour in an online environment can be challenging. Advise them how to switch off self-view or put a post-it over their screen image if they don’t like looking at it.


4. Create a positive online space
  • Greet people individually – e.g. by using the Waiting room/Lobby function
  • Have a co-facilitator and technical support for any one experiencing technical problems. Provide contact details so that participants can get in touch if they have problems joining.
  • Provide housekeeping guidance to explain how you will work together – e.g. Mute while not speaking; use of Chat, Hands, Emoticon
  • Share with people if you are nervous about using technology – that helps to build the relationship and connection with yourself
  • Use “Share screen” to provide visual stimulus
  • Check regularly for understanding and check-in for how people are feeling
5. Manage disruptive or inappropriate behaviour

If disruptive or inappropriate behaviour prevents people from participating, remember that:

  • You can mute individual participants or the whole group. You can also prevent them from unmuting unless they raise their hand to request permission.  Explain why you are taking this action.
  • You have the capability to remove an individual from the meeting if they are extremely disruptive. Explain calmly and clearly what you are doing and why.

More information in the Managing boundaries and difficult situations module.

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