Tips for socializing on Zoom (or other video conference platforms)

Tips for socializing on Zoom (or other video conference platforms)

With this shelter-at-home happening around the world, more and more of us are relying on video conferencing for work, which is making it extra difficult to want to spend additional screen time in order to socialize. Since I’m part of several dispersed communities, and as a result, I have some practice with socializing over video conference platforms.

Well before Covid-19, I was a fan of the Zoom platform. As a result, I’ll talk about tips as they relate to Zoom – although many of my tips are platform agnostic.

1 – Keep the size reasonable (4-6 works really well).

Autumm Caines calls this the Interpersonal Multitudes Barrier (IMB). The idea is that if there are too many people on the conference call, then it isn’t possible to have a casual conversation. If you want a free flowing conversation, you need to stick to the number of people you would talk to at the dinner table, assuming only one person is talking at a time.

2 – Find a comfortable seat.

We do our business calls in front of our computer sitting at a desk. Often when people say they are tired of video conferencing all day, such that they don’t want to socialize on the computer, it is because they are visualizing socializing while sitting at their desk. However, if people were visiting your home, you would typically socialize while sitting comfortably in your living room.

3 – Use your tablet or phone.

Tablets work better because they have bigger screens. Using your tablet is another way to separate the work you do in front of your computer from socializing. It also makes it a lot easier to sit in a comfortable seat and chat. We have this great stand that we call “dude” that holds our iPads. It makes it so that we can chat hands free while sitting on the couch.

Dude – Our tablet holder

4 – Grab a beverage or snack.

People can be concerned about eating on a conference call, however, that is a business mindset. If you were in-person you would eat a snack or drink a beverage together. This too can be done while enjoying a casual conversation over video.

5 – Be intentional.

It is just like hosting a dinner party, you need to invite guests and tell them what time to arrive. It may seem unnatural to need to be intentional about casual conversations, but in the online world it is the only way they will happen. Your social time is just as important as your work time – so block out some time in your calendar and invite some friends to chat.

6 – Use gallery mode.

This is specifically for Zoom (one of the features I love). Some people like to call this the Brady Bunch view or Hollywood Squares view. The idea is that the each person gets equal space on the screen. This doesn’t privage the person who is speaking, and allows you to see everyone. When you have a dinner party, you don’t have the speaker stand when speaking – using speaker view has the same feeling. With gallery view it feels a lot more like sitting around a table together (or in the living room together). This also allows you to see visual cues which helps avoid talking over one another.

7 – Do something fun, be a little silly.

The trend this weeks seems to be silly hats – asking everyone to make a silly hat from what they have available in their homes. Just like having a themed dinner party, it is handy to have a theme as a way to help start the conversation, but also to help you share a laugh.

What tips do you have for socializing on a video call?

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