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  • Writer's pictureRob Stalder

Five Ways to Avoid Virtual Meeting Fatigue

The good news: The sudden shift to working from home (WFH) forced us to learn technologies we may not have used or needed previously. The bad news: We upskilled ourselves into a phenomenon called “Zoom fatigue.”

Stemming from an unprecedented uptick in the use of video-calling, Zoom fatigue is the exhaustion we feel at the end of the day because the increased visual stimuli of virtual interactions are extremely taxing on our brains. And although Zoom is the buzzword here (since it became the platform du jour during the pandemic), the fatigue can occur from using any video chat/conferencing interfaces.

Following are five ways you can avoid virtual meeting fatigue.

Hide the self-view feature.

We aren’t used to staring at ourselves while talking to other people, so the ability to do so in Zoom is a whole lot of extra, unnecessary stimuli. What’s worse, self-view induces a feeling of anxiety as we—consciously or subconsciously—worry about the way we look and sound.

If it’s an option, turn off the self-view feature. Your audience will still be able to see you, but your brain won’t be distracted by the live feed of your own image.

Choose speaker view instead of gallery view.

The ability to see all our teammates on screen at the same time seems useful since it mimics being together physically in the same space. The problem is that our brains are overloaded with stimuli and work overtime to track every movement of every person no matter how slight it is.

When you switch to speaker view, you can focus your attention on one person, effectively limiting the visual stimuli your brain is processing.

Schedule a video call day of rest.

Before the pandemic hit, most of us were already living in the unsustainable world of back-to-back meetings. And the move to WFH didn’t change that. What did change, however, was the added visual stimuli from all those meetings now being conducted on Zoom.

Scheduling one day a week as completely meeting free is good advice anytime, but it’s especially relevant where Zoom fatigue is concerned. If that’s not possible, at least designate one day a week as a day without video meetings.

Pick up the phone.

When the crisis began, we immediately replaced face-to-face interactions with video calls in an attempt to maintain some sense of human connection. But while Zoom helps bridge the gap between seeing our colleagues in person (presence) and not seeing them at all (absence), we’ve gone overboard with it.

To help reduce Zoom fatigue, remember it’s still OK to have basic conference calls. Every meeting doesn’t have to include video. So, before you schedule one, ask yourself: Will this meeting be enhanced by seeing people?

Take notes by hand.

Taking notes digitally is the norm for many reasons: it’s efficient, it’s environmentally friendly, it makes sharing easy. Doing so while on a Zoom call, however, means pulling double screen duty and adding an extra layer of visual stimulation that compounds your fatigue.

If a virtual meeting must include video, choose to take handwritten notes. It’s a natural way to reduce staring at your screen, helping your eyes and mind take a breather from the over-stimulating view of your teammates’ live feeds.


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