So, it turns out Zoom fatigue is a real thing.
How do we know?
Well, because we’ve been facing it. (No offence boss, in case you’re reading this)
Anyone who has had to sit through hours-long online meetings will agree. You’re figuratively dead for the day after back to back Zoom meetings. That’s how much they sap your energy.
What causes Zoom fatigue?
In a world before COVID-19, meetings were face to face. You could see gestures, facial cues, body language, and so much more in everyone around you.
In essence, you connected with people not only through words but also non-verbal cues.
In a world after COVID-19, meetings are virtual. It means while you can see and hear your colleagues, making eye contact or listening to voice modulations is hard.
Think about it. How do you clearly read the body language of a person when all you can see is a tiny head in an even tinier box on your screen?
In short, that connection with other people is weakened. So, your mind works harder at picking up non-verbal cues. You focus more intently on conversations to absorb information.
And that’s exhausting.
But wait, there is more.
On video calls, the only way to show your colleagues that you’re paying attention is to look at the screen. Constantly.
This ‘constant gaze’ makes you uncomfortable and incredibly tired. We’re just not used to staring at one thing for long. Our eyes move around. But you can’t do that during Zoom meetings.
What if the boss thinks you’re slagging off? The horror!
And that’s not it either.
There is a third reason Zoom fatigue happens. Most of us keep looking at that tiny window of ourselves during video calls.
So, you keep seeing your own visual cues – the frown, the widening eyes, the smiling expression. It makes you hyper-aware, and then you start wondering how others interpret your cues.
This makes your brain even more fatigued.
We call it Zoom fatigue because it’s the most common video application right now. But the fatigue happens irrespective of whether you use Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts or any other app!
How to avoid Zoom Fatigue?
Excellent question. It turns out it doesn’t take much.
Amp up your body language.
It is the best way to keep your energy level ?.
- Make eye contact with everyone, but don’t stare. Else you’ll fall victim to the ‘constant gaze’ fatigue.
- Sit far away from the camera so that people can see your hands and sit up straight. Slouching automatically puts you in a sleepy mood.
- Use gestures, move around your arms and hands. Nod your head.
Don’t multitask and take breaks.
Because your laptop is right in front of you or the phone is sitting idle, we tend to work on other things while on a Zoom call.
Multitasking leeches your energy faster than anything else. So:
- Keep the phone away and on silent.
- Close all unnecessary tabs on your system.
- Put any programs like Skype or Slack on notification off mode.
The lesser you are distracted, the higher your energy. But that doesn’t mean you have to focus on the Zoom window continually.
In fact, take mini-breaks, especially on a long call:
- Minimize the Zoom window or
- Look away from the camera.
Just for a few seconds, but enough for your eyes to rest.
Every tip we’ve given till now applies whether you’re leading a meeting or simply participating in one.
If presenting a case, PPT, or project on the call:
Then start with welcoming everyone. If it is a small group, use first names. People adore hearing their own names, and it automatically raises their energy level.
This tip applies to the entire meeting. Use first names when someone raises a hand or gives an input.
In case the meeting includes too many people, then welcome them as a group.
- Don’t use a monotone voice.
- Speak expressively and with passion.
- Modulate your tone by emphasizing on the important words. More than what you’d usually do.
- Don’t ramble on and on about the same point.
- Steer clear of filler words like ‘ummm.’
- And please don’t read from slides. Instead, explain them in your own words.
Good Wi-Fi fights Zoom fatigue!
Can you see me now? Is my voice audible? Did my screen freeze again?
We’ve all heard these questions repeatedly in the past five months. A lagging, glitching or poor internet connection is the reason.
So, if you take away one thing from this post, then make it this.
Make sure your wi-fi is as stable as possible. Sit close to the router if that works. Close any application that eats your internet bandwidth.
Bad wi-fi can cause more Zoom fatigue than anything else.
We leave you with one last advice. Where possible, opt out of Zoom meetings, if you’re too tired. Switch to a regular phone call. You know those work too, right?