Physical distancing has encouraged us to find new ways to connect with one another. One way that some people are maintaining a sense of belonging and a healthy social routine is through the use of technology.

Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Skype are enabling us to continue our Rotary meetings with members, share our ideas for projects and continue cultivating our relationships in the wake of COVID-19.

But it's not always easy to know the social etiquette behind online gatherings. Creating the space for everyone to feel welcome is such an important part of inclusive participation, so I've helped translate that into the digital world.

Here are the top tips. Share them around; I hope they help!

1. Hit the mute button if you're not talking

This gives whoever is speaking the space to be heard.

2. Wave at people as they enter the chat

A friendly wave and a smile is a non-interruptive but welcoming way to greet people as they enter the video chat, especially if someone else is already speaking!

3. Be kind to one another

This one probably seems a bit obvious, but it's important to recognise that some people are more confident with technology than others and for some, your gathering may be their very first. Be patient, gentle and kind. But probably don't blow kisses 😘

4. Tap your ear if you can't hear someone

There's a high chance that someone might forget they've muted themselves at some stage, so a gentle, non-intrusive way to remind them that they're muted is to tap your ears. Hopefully, they won't think you're initiating a game of Charades.

5. Raise your hand if you want to speak

If there are quite a few of you on a video chat and the conversation is booming, it might be handy ('scuse the pun) to raise your hand when you have something to say. A bit like an invisible talking stick.

6. Prop your screen up in one spot

The last thing you want to do is cause your fellow video-buddies some sea-sickness by moving around too much. We recommend propping up your phone or laptop in one spot so you reduce the amount of motion and hopefully avoid seeing these kinds of faces looking back at you.
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