How to Set-Up Online AA Meetings
COVID-19 has stirred things up a bit for AA — not just here in Southeast Pennsylvania but all over the world. Now instead of meeting in person, many groups have temporarily moved online, and as an organization we have been forced to adapt new practices, protocols, and platforms.
This resource is a collection of knowledge we have gained over the last few weeks and is intended to help smooth the path for any group that is new-ish to digital platforms. These aren't regulations or rules at all, so feel free to completely disregard everything here and do it your own way. :)
Video Conferencing Platforms: Options and privacy
In a way COVID-19 came at the perfect time, because today there are a wide range of options in virtual meeting platforms, all of which make it incredibly cheap and easy for groups to meet virtually.
Before going into more detail it is important to mention privacy, which is a chief concern when moving to any digital platform.
Almost every platform at least offers recording features, and in some cases will automatically include full names as the default display name when joining a conference. Keep in mind that conferencing solutions were not made specifically for AA, so take some time to read privacy and data policies, service agreements, and set-up appropriate privacy settings if privacy/anonymity is important to members of your group.
Here are a few of the most common platforms being used. Some are paid; others are free. All can be purchased for less than $20 per month.
Paid web conferencing solution.
Freemium - usually for smaller meetings, however, through July 1, 2020 all GSuite customers have access to advanced calling features for free (up to 250 attendees).
Paid web conferencing solution.
Free or paid.
*Some of our members have noted that default settings on Zoom may need to be changed. Read the how-to-set-up Zoom privacy and default settings by South Jersey Intergroup to see how to maintain privacy on this platform.
Best Practices for online AA meetings
- Due to feedback everyone should mute their phone as default. Here are some possible exceptions:
- It is their turn to speak
- When recognizing the speaker (e.g. “Hi, I’m Desdemona, and I’m an alcoholic.” Group responds “Hi Desdemona...”)
- When thanking a speaker (e.g. “Thank you for sharing Desdemona.”)
- When closing the meeting. Although it’s a bit weird to hear everyone at the same time, some groups don’t mind.
- Some solutions allow the host to set default to mute for new entrants.
- Feel free to use your group’s regular format, adapted for phone. An example phone meeting format is here
- Less savvy members may need help to learn how to join, so be sure to spread around the phone calls to group members to make sure everyone knows how to participate.
- 7th tradition still needs to happen - for groups, intergroup, etc. Here’s a list of platforms with some commentary on convenience by our friends out in CA.
- Many groups open an account on the platform of choice for the meeting to avoid having payments submitted to a personal account of the treasurer.
- We’ve tried a few ways to determine who will share and in what order. Some groups have found success with having a meeting chairperson and a meeting administrator/moderator.
- Some groups use group text features as a way to raise hands, but also be sure to open up the possibility for members who are joining via audio-only to share if they want.
This page has been compiled so far by listening to the experience of AA groups and members across the country (Open to global participation as well!). So if you have an experience or idea that is missing/needed on this page, please do not hesitate to contact us to let us know!