Combating Virtual Meeting Fatigue

Have you ever noticed that after a Zoom call—or let’s be honest after back to back Zoom calls because yes you are so much more efficient that your next meeting is just a click away—that you are more tired and drained than when you went to in person meetings? I know I do. And even with my increased intake of I’m still lagging… more so than my WIFI connection some days.

Well with our kids going back to school we investigated this phenomenon to figure out 1) Is this real? And 2) if so how we can best combat it to help us and our kids keep fresh, alert, and engaged throughout the day.

According to a Microsoft research study, the reason why we are so drained after these virtual engagement is because we focus continuously on the screen to obtain useful information and stay engaged; reduce non-verbal cues that help you read the room or know whose turn it is to talk; and share screens with very little view of the people you are interacting with. Dr. Jeremy Bailenson, the director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that what we are all experiencing are the effects of nonverbal brain overload—long durations of close, nonstop gaze that overloads are brains and fatigues us. So, I think it’s safe to say virtual meeting fatigue is a REAL thing.

So, let’s check out some tips to keep you and your little one more energized and engaged before, during and after virtual engagements.

Limit Face Time. Being face-to-face is great for connecting with people, but it also drives us to have direct eye to eye contact with those on the call and yourself. In traditional in-person meeting you have the luxury of looking around and playing with your pencil and doodling while you’re in the meeting. You also don’t look at yourself, which in virtual meeting let’s be honest we all do. So, don’t feel compelled to have that eye-to-eye interaction in virtual meeting; reduce the number of people on the screen at one time; turn off your camera; and use the share screen function to calm your need to eye gaze.

Take a Break. We recommend incorporating regular breaks every hour to let the brain stimulation and load die down. You and your little ones need time to re-charge, so try to limit online meetings to 30-45 minutes of direct facetime, or if you need to have longer meetings that require face-on interaction make sure to pepper in those much-needed breaks.

Screen Share to the Rescue. Screen share can be a great tool to break up the meetings and give you a mental reprieve. Make sure to use that without the video share to help focus and keep attention to the content that needs to be learned and decisions that need to be made in the meeting.

Stay on One Task. We love to multi-task, but when it comes to virtual meetings try to keep on task and avoid doing other activities to keep the mental load and stimuli down.

Don’t Forget the Phone. Yes, while we now live in the age of amazing of technology that let’s us connect in ways we never imagined, we should not forget the power of the phone. Using the phone to have quick calls vice using virtual meetings is a great way to draw down on the mental load. When using the phone your only using one sense you ears to hear. It gives your eye intake an brain a much needed break to recharge.


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