Building Wellbeing Blog

Easy adjustments for better building and storytelling

Many of us have quickly got used to video conferencing as a new way of having meetings and workshops but one big difference to the face-to-face equivalent is where our attention is focussed and the impact this has on our concentration.

Viewing Options for All Video Conferencing

Often we are using video conferencing when just a phone call would do. Although seeing the other person can help because you can see their body language, there are also many distractions. One of the biggest distractions for me is seeing a video of myself! I just can’t help being a little self-conscious about how I look on camera. And as a consequence, I must be giving less than 100% of my attention…

As a host and participant on video conferencing, it is important to make conscious decisions about the viewing options that you are use so you can focus as much as possible. And the starting place is removing your view of yourself. In zoom this is done by right clicking on your own video and selecting ‘Hide Myself’. The next thing is adjusting the settings so when you know one person will be talking for more than a few seconds, you get the video on the ‘speaker view’ rather than ‘gallery view’ so you are really focussing on them just as you would if you were in the room with them.

Viewing Options for LSP Workshops

These basic principles of adjusting viewing options for better concentration also hold true for LSP workshops. You will want to see everyone in ‘gallery view’ when you are giving instructions or discussing outcomes but when people are sharing and explaining their models, everyone needs to see them in ‘speaker view’. As a host, the best way to do this is to use the ‘spotlight’ viewing option. Using spotlight means that the participant that you are focussed on is seen full-screen by everyone and overrides the active speaker mode, meaning that the video stays on them, even if another participants speaks.

As well as this, there are a few other screen view tips that I have picked up from the sessions that I have run, and they can make a big difference.

Build on the table and tilt your camera
  1. Build and show your models on a flat surface. Some people hold up their model to the camera, which means that they have to build one stable model that they can hold with one hand so they can point with the other. This really constrains their ability to build what they are thinking, and also their ability to explain their model to the group. A better option is to get them to build on their desk and leave it there but tilt their webcam toward the model to show it to the group. This means that they can use a wider range of building options such as having multiple parts to the models and having unstable parts and loose parts nearby. If needed they can rotate the model or move the camera around the model so everyone else can see better.
  2. Get them used to relying on their model and their voice for the story telling. It seems to be instinctive to speak to the camera with your face in view, maybe because it is reassuring to know that everyone is there and that you know what they can see. But as soon as this happens, everyone else focuses more on their face and less on the model. This would not happen in a face-to-face workshop because our are eyes are drawn to the model. But when you only have a small screen to work with, it’s difficult for everyone to look beyond the story teller’s face to the model. 

So in summary, get people used to:

  • Swapping between gallery view and speaker view to get the most of their screen view
  • Tilting their laptop screens to show off their LEGO creations on the table
  • Making their model the only thing in their video when they are story telling

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