Comfortable in video calls

A person sits at their laptop screen, which shows four people video calling.

In these current times, ensuring people feel comfortable over online video calling platforms is very important.

Zoom has truly taken the world by storm ever since the pandemic. Meetings, classes, even social hang outs are commonplace over video calling platforms. After a couple of years of adjustment, most people have successfully navigated this new territory. However, there are still many students who feel quite anxious joining in a Zoom call. Why is this, and how can you help?

I have been subject to video anxiety. It stems from a combination of factors: feeling like there is no system in place to know when it is your turn to speak; the stress of technology messing up; and finally, having to be looking at your dreaded reflection when you should be focusing. 

Yet, I have also been on the other end having run many meetings over Zoom. Here are some of my tips to help people feel comfortable over Zoom:

  • If you are videoing new people, encourage everyone to add their pronouns. It's super easy to do, but saves anyone from feeling uncomfortable about having to speak up about this.
  • Similarly, make sure at the start of the call that everyone has their preferred name listed. 
  • Encourage attendees to use the raise hand function when they want to talk. Again, if you know everyone already, the natural rapport that you would have would easily translate online anyway. But if you are calling with unfamiliar people, having some sort of system in place would help rid any anxiety about speaking up.
  • Do not take offence if some people choose to mute their microphones or turn off their video. Of course, it is nicer to communicate with smiling faces but there can be so many reasons why someone is unable to properly engage, such as accessibility needs or having to call in from a particular environment. The best approach would be to let people know before the meeting if they are expected to be tuned in via video.
  • Be polite! I've had my share of tutors who I can tell are making students feel uncomfortable since they will abruptly tell them to turn off their microphones because of unwanted feedback. Sure, this is annoying but there is a nice way to approach them!
  • Finally, always let attendees know that they can message you privately if they have any concerns.

Good luck with your future Zoom calls! I'm sure they aren't going away any time soon, so it is good to be prepared.

Tagged in What messes with your head, technology