Whether you've been dragged kicking and screaming, or skipped happily into the age of the social video call, we've all found ourselves in this “new normal”.
Many of us have all used video conferences for work repeatedly – a necessary evil for remote workers and international organisations. However, 2020 marked the first time that Zoom has invited itself to birthday celebrations, baby showers, nights out with friends and even weddings, with our screens divided into boxes of sardined households facing the camera at unflattering angles.
The key had only just been turned to keep us locked down in March of last year when an epidemic of virtual game nights, family quizzes and watch parties descended upon us.
Social distancing has proven to be somewhat social, with so many opportunities to connect being right at our fingertips. Regardless of your on-cam experience, there have still been so many things to adapt to… and we're here to help you level up your Zoom skills!
With so many platforms to choose from, a good place to start is finding one which works for you and the purpose of your call. Popular choices include Skype, Microsoft Teams, House Party, and Google Hangouts, with the favourite seemingly being Zoom!
Choose your device carefully. Where possible, opt for dialling in from your laptop rather than your phone for a more stable connection and better sound and video quality.
Position your device in a well-lit location, in a quiet space. We've all become experienced set designers in this webcam age to ensure our background looks on point.
Top Tip: Zoom gives you the option to add a virtual background with the click of a button. Transport yourself to your favourite holiday destination (plus a cocktail, of course), or immerse yourself in your favourite hideout, removing the need to rearrange half of the house.
Social events via video conference require a little more preparation than a face-to-face meet-up. We'd always advise you to plan specific things to do, rather than just relying on conversation. In a typical get-together, you would separate and have conversations in smaller groups, mingle and mix throughout the event.
Zoom calls, however, require you to keep everyone engaged together (but apart) which can be challenging. We've listed our top three favourite ideas to make your virtual meets the place to be:
Why not shake things up a little and add a theme to your next Zoom call? Invite participants to dress up in costume or specific attire, base your activities around the theme and even include a mini-quiz on the topic. It could be film and TV, sci-fi, famous people or decades of music, for example. It adds a great talking point to your call and streamlines the plans for the event.
If it's a work call you're hosting, simplify this with things like ''worst shirt Wednesday'' and dig out your lairiest number. Or how about ''Feet Up Friday'' with un-matching wacky socks? You'll be surprised at how much this boosts the engagement and gets the meeting off to a humorous start, breaking the ice from the off.
Fake It Till You Make It
The ‘Maker Challenge’ guarantees a giggle or two, whoever you're connecting with. Use it as an interactive activity, an ice-breaker, or get competitive with a prize up for grabs. Ask participants to bring along some scrap paper and ask them to make an item chosen by you, for example a tower, a hat, a pair of glasses, a hair accessory, or a mask. The wilder, the better!
With cameras lined up to share everyone's creative process, there's some real fun to be had with this one.
But why stop at scrap paper? Dig out the kids' Lego, rummage through the recycling – anything could be used. What's more, you can unleash your inner silly, sporting your newly created items for the remainder of the gathering. Oh, and we definitely want to see your selfies…
With social distancing in full force and lockdowns keeping us grounded, we have been stripped of the opportunity to get out and let our hair down with friends, co-workers, or family. Maintaining a sense of community is more important than ever and really supports productivity and positivity in the workplace also.
If you're seeking Zoom level-ups for your team, a Virtual Happy Hour could be just the ticket. For some, Mondays can be a bit of a struggle. So why not start the week off positively and host a post-work happy hour? This is the perfect opportunity to check-in with your team or friends. Keep the conversation light and get the week off to a good start.
For that Friday feeling, hosting a remote happy hour at the close of the week ensures your team kicks their weekend off in style and clocks out with a smile. Share some music, have a natter and sip on your favourite drinks among friends while staying safe. Our Virtual Cocktail Masterclasses could really help with this one. Be sure to check them out: https://www.mixandtwist.co.uk/virtual-cocktail-masterclass-online