With many parts of Australia still on lockdown, connecting with others can seem increasingly difficult.
Whether video calls drown out your usual banter with friends or the problem is actually hearing them over a spotty internet connection, Zoom fatigue is real.
Fortunately, after 18 months of video conferencing, virtual classes, and online events, lessons have been learned to make digital connections a little less alienating, especially for those who now manage them for a living.
We asked professionals at the heart of the Virtual Pivot to share their perspectives on solving some common video chat dilemmas.
What to do when … you have small children
Tim Cuthell, youth librarian at Casey Cardinia Libraries, recommends keeping video calls with children interactive. Stories and songs are a great way to make that intimate connection. If you are reading a story, he suggests bringing the book closer to the screen so the child can see the pages.
Consider telling stories using your hands or props. Lots of songs and nursery rhymes that involve clapping or hand movements (like nursery rhymes with fingers, like five little ducks) work great on a screen. If you want to use a puppet, there is no need to purchase it, you can make your own using cardboard cutouts that you move around the screen.
Cuthell says having fun with what you have is one of the challenges of locking, and recommends activities like making a shaker with rice in a jar that kids can use for fun.
For older kids, digital coding is a good activity, with Scratch and Python, two languages you can learn at home for free. If they create something like a video game with newly learned coding skills, it can be shown to family or friends with features like Zoom Share Screen.
For adults who interact with children on Zoom, Cuthell advises “be prepared to laugh at yourself”. He says wearing bright colors, dressing up and doing a nightclub, or playing with filters and backgrounds are ways to make the online experience more fun.
He also recommends bringing the same level of energy as doing an activity in person. “It’s about recharging your batteries and not being discouraged by the distance that separates you. “
What to do when … you find the video socially embarrassing
Brett Blewitt of Masters of Fun, team building and event facilitators, is well aware that digital catch-ups can quickly escalate. “If all you’re talking about is the word that won’t be named, you lose the motivation to catch up with your friends because you leave the conversation more anxious.”
His solution is to add a little more structure. “When you put a game behind you move away from the obvious, which is why we’re on Zoom in the first place.”
Here are some suggestions from Blewitt:
You can download board games online for group play, like Monopoly or code names, with websites like Horse Paste. Turning quizzes or crosswords into group activities can also work.
Create a MasterChef home experience with your friends. Give everyone a basic ingredient and 20 minutes to cook something with it. At the end of time, everyone returns to show what they have created and eat together.
Have a list with friends and take turns organizing a 20-minute fitness class each week.
Blewitt says at the end of the day, “the most important thing is to find the impetus to have fun”.
What to do … for a special occasion
When it comes to hosting celebrations, from birthdays to baby showers, Joshua Mason Browne, Creative Director at FCM Meetings and Events, recommends getting back to basics. He says that despite being socially distant, thinking of ways to connect around shared food, music and play are “simple things … that make us feel less stressed” and more “connected to each other. to others”.
Ahead of the event, Browne also says you can encourage the feeling of occasion by designing a virtual background to make everyone feel in the same room, or by suggesting a theme that everyone should dress for. .
Food: Being able to share food and drink can be as easy as sharing a recipe or designing a cocktail that everyone prepares before the event. If all of your guests are in the same city, you may also want to consider ordering everyone the same food for delivery.
Music: It is difficult to play music through video calls because you end up losing the ability to communicate. This problem can be solved by using an app that anyone can sign in to, like Spotify’s group session feature. Ask your guests to collaborate on the playlist so that everyone can hear the music they want. They can also add songs throughout the event like a jukebox.
To play: The organization of play activities will depend on the group of people you are caring for, but aim to ensure that any activity is designed around collaboration. Browne recommends the free Kahoot gaming platform because it offers the ability to customize games or play standard versions. For a baby shower, he recommends Who’s That Baby? where you ask guests to send baby photos of themselves and create a multiple choice contest to guess who each photo is during the party.
Finally, he suggests opening the video chat one hour before the start of the formal procedure. This gives early arrivals an informal moment to casually connect, or potentially cook and prepare together.
What to do … if your internet is really slow
Zoran Tasevski, Managing Director of Technetics Consulting, explains that there are a few workarounds for joining video calls when you have a slow internet connection:
Option 1: Connect to a telephone access point. “If you don’t have a 4G or 5G connection on your own phone, have someone else turn on the hotspot on their smartphone and connect to it, which will allow you to connect without internet wire. Depending on the region you are in, if Telstra does not have a strong 4G or 5G signal, you can try a different provider by asking another family member if they have a different connection with Optus or Vodafone.
Option 2: “Buy a 5G Wi-Fi hotspot like this … Then you can connect your laptop or iPad wirelessly.
Option 3: “Buy a data SIM card from any provider with good wireless internet coverage in your area and insert it into a wireless router like the one from TP-Link.” Anyone in the house can connect to this wireless router and you can also take the wireless router with you everywhere. Sometimes it works faster than an NBN connection! “
Other ways to stay social instead
Video game presenter and content creator Stephanie Bendixsen has a curated list of virtual games to play with friends or family that you can’t see in person.
Gartic phone: “All you need is access to a web browser to play this free version of the phone game. One person will be asked to write a sentence or an idea, the next person will have to draw it. The third person will receive the image without the message and will have to interpret what the drawing is. You don’t need fantastic art skills, in fact it’s funnier if you don’t.
Jackbox Party Pack: “Includes many types of word games, drawing games, trivia games, which are really well produced with funny graphics and voice dialogue.” One person needs to own the game through the Steam video game platform and all other participants just need to access a browser.
Among us: “This game was released a few years ago, but has become very popular over the past 12 months due to the live streaming people have seen how fun and social it is. deception based game where you play as astronauts trying to fix a ship, but two unknown players try to sabotage the effort. It’s fun because it’s discussion based, you watch people try to keep a face impassive when they lie to their friends or sometimes people seem guilty when they are not Everyone has to own the game.
fall guys: “Can be played on PC or console, and is fun for everyone, even kids.” In an aesthetic of the candy world, you play as a candy thrown into an obstacle course. It’s very simple but very funny and chaotic.