Zoom Fatigue, a new phenomenon according to the BBC, is the feeling of increased stress and being tired of virtual meetings. The stress and fatigue comes from unique stressors that come with video calls.
Video calls offer a bit more of a personal connection as you can look at the person you are speaking to. However it is much harder to intuit social cues, which can serve as a distraction. There is also an inordinate amount of unnatural eye contact (in person, eyes tend to wander more than they do on video calls). There is concern about the background and noise – as most people are working from homes and aren’t fully equipped to yet. Lastly, there is stress over who speaks when and interruptions.
It can be quite mentally taxing to participate in virtual video calls, especially when there are multiple calls a day, every day.
Some cope by working on other things through the course of the call. However, if you get caught it’s embarrassing and it also further detaches you from the call, which can create more stress in the long run.
Stay focused and engaged (it is good for your job and it will help distract you from the stress and discomfort). Try to allow natural eye movement. Don’t start intensely into the camera. Ensure you are set up in an area that you are comfortable, with little to know distractions.
Allow yourself time between calls to clear your mind, stretch and regroup.
For longer, and larger meetings many hosts are adding entertainment or an emcee. Entertainment alleviates stress and your participants will be energized and happy – both great states to be in for productivity and efficiency.
Icebreakers for Virtual Meetings
Icebreakers are a great way to reduce stress, help participants connect and create something a little different. All of these are good to beat Zoom Fatigue and have more productive meetings.
Consider having every speaker go around and share something about themselves or their role in the project being discussed. Also consider games, an emcee to lead an introductory session or a mentalist to come in and impress everyone with his knowledge.
Icebreakers are also a great way to make virtual meetings more interactive.
Virtual Meeting Best Practices
Ensuring you follow best practices will help with everyone’s comfort levels and help to decrease that fatigue. Typically best practices indicate that you should avoid eating, avoid background noise, mute when you aren’t speaking, remain awake (haha) and follow the conversation so you can jump in as appropriate.
Tips for Virtual Meetings (Help to Avoid Zoom Fatigue)
To avoid any discomfort, which can lend itself to causing the fatigue, you should establish any rules and guidelines up front. If the call is an hour or more, include a break to visit the restroom or grab some water. Let participants know if fun backgrounds are ok (they can be great icebreakers!).
Determine if there are any guidelines about who speaks when and share it with everyone.
Determine in advance if you need to record the call and let people know. Decide if you want the bell to ding announcing guests – it can be a distraction if people join late or drop off and come back on.
Ensure everyone knows how to use the platform before the call.
Virtual meetings online are difficult if someone doesn’t have great WiFi. Ensure your team is outfitted to be working remotely.
Increasing the enjoyment, decreasing the stress factors and asking for feedback on meetings is a great way to reduce Zoom Fatigue and get better outcomes from your virtual meetings.