Communicating with face masks

Last updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2022

In some settings in the workplace you may be required to communicate verbally with others whilst wearing a face mask. These can sometimes make communication with patients and colleagues more challenging as they muffle sound and remove the listener’s ability to see facial expression or read lips.

Face the person you are speaking to directly

Here are a few ways to improve communication whilst wearing a face mask:

  • Face the person you are speaking to directly.
  • Move to a quiet place if possible.
  • Speak clearly and slowly.
  • Try to talk louder than usual, but don’t shout.
  • Maintain eye contact.Nod (yes) and shake your head (no), if required, to show what you mean.
  • Use your voice (tone) and body language to get your message across.
  • Use alternative forms of communication if needed (i.e. writing down a message).
  • If the person is hard of hearing and usually relies on lip reading, explore whether a clear/transparent face mask is available instead. 
  • At the end of the conversation, make sure to confirm understanding.