Five Tips For Hosting and Participating in Online Circles

I recently wrote an article for The Circle Way Newsletter about virtual circles. I’ve excerpted the headlines below. Check out the full article here.

Over the last twenty years, I’ve been with literally hundreds of people in face-to-face circles. Some circles as large as fifty of sixty people. More commonly, in groups of six to sixteen. Most of us have been moved to tears at times in these circles. Or deep convictions. Or delightful surprises. Some of us have even found life-time companions, friends, and colleagues in the container that is circle.

One of the most common questions I’m asked from those face-to-face circles is, “Is this possible online?” I love the hope in people’s eyes that is behind that question. And I can see a bit of the worry too — worry that often comes with the vulnerability inherent in hope.

My response is always the same, after a deliberate pause to hear the question. “Yes, of course.” That’s the simplest, and most honest response I can offer. It speaks directly to the hope and to the worry. Then I usually go on to share that online circles are related, but different from face-to-face circles. Both are important. Both are exciting. With intent for good hosting all around, it’s important to feel the similarity of depth and to acknowledge difference.

Over the years, particularly the last ten, in this explosion of virtual possibility and global community, I’ve come to rely on a few tips in hosting and participating in online circles. I think of these tips as practices and dispositions.

1. Arrive Early

2. Avoid Distractions

3. Virtual Environments Take Time Too

4. Get A Little Extra Tactile and Descriptive

5. Invite a Sequence for Speaking and Signal Your Completion with Extra Directness

I’m glad that so many of the virtual circles I’ve participated in and hosted have felt intimate and well connected. I love it when people express their appreciations. It’s the voice of hope. It’s the relief of released worry.

When at my best, whether face-to-face or online, I remind myself that I / we are not just leading meetings. We are holding space for a possibility. An honesty. A realness of connection. Presence is the common denominator across the mediums. Presence is the operating system. It just takes a little extra imagination and practice to bring it fully to make the virtual circle real.

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