DDN May2021 May 2021 | Page 20


Face to face

Yuliya Baranych / iStock
We may be experiencing fatigue after more than a year of Zoom sessions but we still need to brush up those online skills , says Angela Calcan

DrinkCoach has offered online interventions since 2014 so we were well equipped when COVID arrived . Prior to the pandemic there was often scepticism from other professionals – you can ’ t engage people properly online , digital doesn ’ t work and it will never take off . Out of necessity , both the sector and service users have embraced the use of technology throughout the pandemic , and while the initial enthusiasm all round was high it ’ s interesting to hear about the dropoff in online attendance as time has gone on . We know that online working is much more nuanced than it may first appear .

There is much potential for technology to enhance the
treatment offer , but when done poorly it can be equally damaging . There is also the real issue of digital exclusion for some service users , which often dominates discussions . Online interventions will not be appropriate for everyone , but digital aspects may enhance services or bridge an existing gap . There are many service users who will still require face-to-face contact .
Despite the increased use of Zoom groups , Teams meetings and video calls , it ’ s been interesting to observe people ’ s behaviour online . It ’ s important when using this technology to put some thought into how to get the best experience from it – there ’ s so much to pay attention to , and we ’ re using different skills to make up for the loss of cues that we rely on in face-to-face settings . All this while
‘ It ’ s important that careful consideration is made each and every time we are on camera . It does involve being organised and putting yourself in the shoes of the person on the receiving end .’
paying attention to how we are perceived by others . No wonder we ’ re exhausted .
Whilst most mistakes are unintentional they are usually avoidable and relate to poor set up – lighting , sound , camera angles , proximity to the screen , distracting backgrounds and difficulty using platforms . And let ’ s not forget the unexpected Zoom bombs from pets and children ( I ’ ve certainly had this happen a few times in my home ). Then there ’ s the poor etiquette observed – which has included people lying in bed during training , vaping mid meeting , or forgetting to mute microphones while holding unrelated conversations off camera .
We also fail to recognise how off-putting it can be for a trainer / presenter to be talking to a screen of small blank boxes rather than seeing