Last Friday, rather than having fun with just the adults at Treehouse Village, we decided to try and have some online fun that involved some of our community kids. Our event planning team put on their thinking caps and came up with a community craft night, where we would all sit together over video conferencing and do a craft together. This then became our Friday night – birds of a feather flock together event – where we got together to do a lot of laughing while each of us made some form of bird hat with materials we had on hand in our homes.
The event was a smashing success, with a lot of laughs being shared by all, and some community engagement between the adults and some of the younger kids. This is exactly what our community needed. Those who couldn’t make it are sad to have missed it.
Through our experience, we have put together the following six tips for socializing online in this time of Covid. These tips are not limited to Covid as they will also work whenever you have a community that is geographically dispersed.
1- Be intentional
Online socializing is just like hosting a dinner party, you need to invite guests and tell them what time to arrive. It may seem unnatural to be intentional about casual conversations, but in the online world it is the only way they will happen. Your social time is just as important as your work time. Block out some time in your calendar and invite some friends to chat.
2- Keep the size reasonable
The idea is that if there are too many people on the conference call, then it isn’t possible to have a casual conversation. If you want a free flowing conversation, you need to stick to the number of people you would talk to at the dinner table, assuming only one person is talking at a time.
3- Use your mobile (tablet or phone)
Tablets work better because they have bigger screens. Using your tablet is another way to separate the work you do in front of your computer from socializing. It also makes it a lot easier to sit in a comfortable seat and chat. Using some kind of stand makes it possible to chat hands free while sitting on the couch.
4- Get comfortable
We do our business calls in front of our computers sitting at desks. Often when people say they are tired of video conferencing all day and they don’t want to socialize on the computer, it is because they are visualizing socializing while sitting at their desk. However, if people were visiting your home, you would typically socialize while sitting comfortably in your living room.
5- Grab a beverage or snack
People can be concerned about eating on a conference call, however, that is a business mindset. If you were visiting in person you would eat a snack or drink a beverage together. This, too, can be done while enjoying a casual conversation over video.
6- Do something fun or silly
The trend over the last few weeks seems to be silly hats – asking everyone to make a silly hat from what they have available in their homes. Just like having a themed dinner party, it is handy to have a theme as a way to help start the conversation, but also to help you share a laugh.