University life and the way we learn has certainly changed these last few months. As classes have moved online: face-to-face interaction, a pre-lecture coffee catch-up and the mad dash to get a seat in the lecture theatre, have all become things of the past.

Being out of our comfort zone in a new learning environment is not always easy and can leave us feeling out of sorts when it comes to interacting with others. We’ve teamed up with student living specialist, Scape, and its Communication Expert, Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon, to put together a few tips that will help your confidence bounce back when it comes to communicating effectively in the ‘new normal’ of online lectures.

Get involved

If you think about it, large lecture halls are far more daunting spaces to acknowledge others and put your hand up to share thoughts and questions – so use the new virtual format to your advantage!

The virtual lecture format means you get to see people’s faces more than you would do when you are turned towards a lecturer in a lecture theatre. Why not make the most of this new opportunity and take the time to greet and speak with your fellow students before and after the lecture takes place?

Student forums are also a great place to introduce yourself to others on your course. If one hasn’t been set up already, you can always set one up online or use a messaging app, such as WhatsApp, to make it easier to study, spitball ideas and ask for help where needed from course mates. Good communication results from connection. You’re much more likely to feel confident expressing yourself and offering your opinion in lectures once you feel personally connected to those on your course.

Don’t turn off your camera!

While turning your camera off might seem appealing to the introverted out there, it is important to be aware that it will stop you from having access to visual cues. It’s those visual cues that help us to better retrieve and remember information from others – so they are vital for killing it in those exams!

Turning your camera off also has the potential to appear rude to others, in that you’re saying, ‘I don’t mind looking at you, but I don’t want you to see me’. If you want to make a good impression, show up to show you’re engaged.

Keep the conversation two-sided

When communication is one-sided, it’s quite often easy to forget what has been said. To get the most out of your lectures, engage with your lecturer and look for opportunities to ask questions. This will allow you to clarify their points and receive feedback. By allowing the conversation to be two-sided, you – and your fellow students – will be able to take in more information and get more from the lecture.

Eye contact is not be feared

When it comes to presenting to your classmates, eye contact is bound to feel weird at times. We tend to stare at the screen in a way we would never normally stare at somebody’s face when in front of them. Don’t be put off by people staring. They will be far more focused on what’s being shown on the screen, as well as what you are saying, than actually staring directly at you.

Similarly, if you don’t want to put others off, it can be kind to react to what they’re saying. It’ll show that you’re not staring at them but are instead engaged in what they say. A quick yes, no, laugh or nod isn’t going to disturb them but can reassure them that you’re focused and understanding them.