Staring at a screen for an hour? With Strangers? Not for you, right? Meeting online was rare before the Pandemic but now there are so many more meetings and classes with virtual options. You can even take Virtual Yoga at Parkinson’s Pointe on Fridays from 9 am – 10 am MST.
Maybe you logged on your computer or did a FaceTime call to communicate with friends and family for the first time in 2020 or 2021 and meeting online has never been your favorite.
Or, you’ve tried many times but don’t feel like it has the same benefit as meeting face-to-face.
Even if you prefer meeting in real life, we have some tips and tricks to get the most out of any online meeting you are invited to or are considering attending.
There are some very common complaints (and a few surprising ones) we’ve heard about why people shun virtual meetings. We’ll talk about a few and give you ideas on how to overcome these hurdles.
- Technical concerns. “Do I need to be on a desktop?” “What about an IPad or Chromebook?” “Can I just use my phone?” In short, no. Either works and of course. The advantage of using a laptop or a desktop is being able to more easily ensure the camera is at eye level. With a phone or an iPad or Chromebook, you will have to lean and prop these up to get the best angle for your face. Using a more portable option allows you to more easily sit outside, but remember that noise from traffic and even nature can be distracting to others at your meeting. Best practice is to mute (run your cursor or finger on the lower left of your screen) to turn your microphone off whenever you are not speaking.
- Online meetings are boring. But they don’t have to be! Parkison’s Pointe hosts a Coffee & Connect for people with PD on the first Wednesday of each month at 4:30 PM MST. Meredith Roberts Lo, DPT and Parkison’s Pointe Founder provides a warm, welcoming and engaging virtual space for attendees to meet one another and share their experiences.
- Feeling pressure to clean your surroundings and look presentable. We’re all about comfort and encourage attendees to wear whatever makes them at ease. If you’re concerned about having your image reflected back at you, turn off your self-view while in the meeting. Body language experts concur that it can be distracting to you while speaking and it provides little benefit.
Here are a few more tips…
- Watch here to easily install backgrounds on Zoom to appear in a tidy room – it’s possible to do so without doing any cleaning beforehand.
- Remember to keep your camera at eye level (you may need a few books under your laptop or desktop monitor).
- Try to look at the camera when you’re speaking and feel free to look at the screen when someone else is talking.
- A general rule for distance is to keep 2.5-3 feet between your face and your screen. We’ve all been in those meetings where we just see the top of someone’s head and can agree it’s distracting for everyone.
- Make an effort to look into the camera when you’re speaking and feel free to look at the screen when someone else is talking.
- Meetings can be distracting. The responsibility for keeping meetings engaging falls mainly on having a prepared and engaging host. The rest of the responsibility depends on whether attendees are keeping up their end of the bargain. Other things might try to complete for your attention, but do your best to give it to the host and other attendees.
For example, if you have a barking dog or a poorly lit room, perhaps it’s best to have Fido outside if possible. As it pertains to lighting, ensure you have lighting in front or your device’s camera, not behind it. A host will try to keep these distractions to a minimum but treat the meeting just as you would if you were there in person.
If you follow these general guidelines we’re confident online meetings can be beneficial.
Other benefits of virtual meetings include:
- Feeling less lonely
- Reducing distress
- Providing a place to vent
- Gaining a sense of hope or empowerment
- Learning about other resources from knowledgeable attendees and host
Online or virtual meetings can be inviting and places of respite when everyone present knows what you’re dealing with. In the case of Parkinson’s, well meaning friends and family may try to emphasize, but having a dedicated time and place to meet with other people with Parkinson’s is a rare opportunity and outlet we hope you’ll seize.
Join us on the first Wednesday of every month from 4:30 -5:30 PM MST.