Online meeting platforms can keep your club together

Vicki Hermansen | Mar 20, 2020

virtual meeting

Some Kiwanis clubs have been using technology to meet for several years and won’t miss a meeting during COVID-19 social distancing regulations.   

In Illinois, the eKiwanis Club of Greater Chicago meets in person every other month and holds a conference call for other meetings. The club has a couple of options for online meetings.

The Kiwanis Club of Friends Across Borders Jamaica in the Eastern Canada and Caribbean District boasts members in the United States, Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean. The club meets online monthly using GoToMeeting.  

And, the Coastal Valley Cyber Kiwanis Club in California has been an online club since 2008.   

Watch this short video and learn how to set up an online meeting using Zoom.

“It began because many businesspeople, teachers and others potentially don’t have the ability to get time off, even during lunch, to go to a Kiwanis meeting,” said Marie Banuelos, club president. “Mothers at home caring for children, some of our most involved Kiwanis members couldn’t just step away from home.”  

Today’s online platforms make connecting easy. And, the online gatherings haven’t stopped the clubs from being active in their communities. Members of the eKiwanis Club of Greater Chicago perform two to three service projects a month, including volunteering at food pantries, nursing homes, homeless shelters and adopting families during the holidays.  

“We use, which allows you to create an account for free,” said Jennifer Roeslmeier, club president. A digital marketing and brands manager at a software company, she’s familiar with using technology on the job.   

Roeslmeier said the free conference line holds up to 1,000 participants. The platform also provides the ability to share a computer screen.   

“If you want to share a visual, you are able to send your club members a link that allows them to see your screen on their device,” she said, adding she’s used this option for board meetings.   

ekiwanis_club Roeslmeier said her club also uses GoToMeeting for video chats and will use that app for an upcoming board meeting.   

“This service is nice because you have the video chat option and can also share your screen. If you already have a GoToMeeting account, it is a good option. Zoom is a free service and has the same functionalities — video chat and screen sharing,” Roeslmeier said. Skype is another option.  

Paulette Kirkland, president of the Kiwanis Club of Friends Across Borders, says the GotoMeeting platform has worked well for her club’s meetings, including monthly meetings, board meetings and committee meetings.  

Banuelos, with the Costal Valley Cyber Kiwanis Club, says her club took advantage of growing cyber communications when it was formed.   

“After 12 years, our members are acclimated to cyber meetings, and new members adjust much easier than longtime members of a regular club,” she said. “Be patient.”  

All agree that setting guidelines for club members and following an agenda are the keys to successful meetings. Roeslmeier says the online meeting is just like an in-person meeting, and Banuelos says the only thing missing is the meal.   

Here are their tips to running online meetings:

  • Find an easy-to-use platform and provide instructions on how to use it.
  • Test the technology before the first meeting.
  • Notify members of the meeting time and date.
  • Prepare an agenda and follow it. Keep the meeting concise so everyone stays engaged. 
  • Start the meeting on time. Open the video or phone lines at least 10 minutes before the meeting begins.
  • When you begin the meeting, make sure everyone can see and hear the meeting leader and see the shared screen.
  • Advise participants about when to use the mute button.
  • Let members know they don’t have to use their camera for video meetings.
  • Select a host or moderator and ask that member to speak more slowly as attendees may feel lost during the first few meetings.
  • Keep the first meeting short while members get used to the technology. 
  • Try to start with an activity or Kiwanis Moment to engage members. 
  • Consider inviting a guest speaker or another Kiwanis club to join your call. It’s a good opportunity to reach out to Kiwanis clubs you wouldn’t normally meet with or perhaps have a club join from another state.


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