The Zoom call minefield
As a result of Covid 19, many people have started using zoom as a way to connect. There's something really lovely about seeing everyone's faces isn't there? Zoom is really good in the respect that you are focused on peoples faces, and for me that means, in small numbers at least, I can lipread. But a few issues have come up when I've been on zoom calls so I've come up with a few tips!
Tip #1 - Don't sit with a window directly behind you, especially if there is sunlight blazing through it - it makes your face disappear in the dark and I cant see your facial expressions or lips to read them.
Tip #2 - I really struggle with interruptions - I feel like I need people to put their hand up when they want to speak! By the time I've located who is speaking, the conversation has moved on. I need a pause and rewind button!!
Tip #3 - Obviously, the quality of the picture matters, if I cant see your lips clearly, or it's fuzzy - I will struggle. I rely a lot on facial expressions to give me a clue as to the context of the conversation, I love really expressive faces and smiley ones too!
Tip #4 - To those of you that have mustaches and beards, if you could keep on top of your grooming, that would be amazing! Many lips have been hidden within a bushy beard!!
Tip #5 - Think about where your head is in the shot, just half a head (usually the top half - really doesn't work for me) or sometimes there's no visual at all!! May as well give up before I've even started!! I know some people feel shy about putting their faces on the screen but if you know that one of the people you are communicating with has a hearing loss, it may be something to consider.
Tip #6 - If you need to look to the side for any reason, please do so but only when you are not speaking!!
Tip #7 - Also, keep your hands away from your face, many people don't seem to realise it but they cover their mouth with their hands a lot - sweeping generalisation here!! Also, I do love it when people gesticulate with their hands but not in front of the face please.
Tip #8 - Because of the nature of my work and volunteering, the zoom sessions usually end in prayer. I've never really understood why people look down to the floor in prayer, shouldn't they be looking up to the heavens? I've missed out on a lot of prayers.
I do have a regular zoom call with two good friends, and I feel comfortable with them both as I know I can tell them to be quiet or repeat themselves without feeling awkward. It's definitely a different experience for me the more people there are involved in a zoom call, and how comfortable or how appropriate it is to tell them to be quiet!! I've put up with things like this because it's 'easier' and now I'm thinking, isn't it easier if you tell people what you need? It's difficult to say sometimes that you're struggling, especially when the other faces in the zoom call are having what looks to be a very exciting debate. Seems rude to interrupt them in mid flow, when you had lost the thread of the conversation 2 minutes ago!!
I would love zoom to have subtitles - in fact everything should have subtitles. I used to imagine bubbles popping out of peoples heads as they spoke so I could read their speech instead of listening to it! Also, zoom calls for me, require a huge amount of concentration - it's similar to when I have a conference or a meeting in which I have to take notes, I usually end up with a bad headache for quite a few hours afterwards due to the stress it takes on my body.
I hope this helps people and no pressure for the lucky ones who get to be on my next zoom call with me!!!
One last note, and obviously I can only speak for myself but my mum came across this article about how covid has made its impact on the disabled, it's called 'Abandoned, forgotten and ignored.' Its really interesting and the link is here.