From hyper-conscious speakers hosting the calls to audiences with their eyes glued to their monitors in attention, zoom calls can be draining. Still, the causes and solutions are manageable, so don’t let the fatigue keep you down.
Video conferencing has become a norm due to the Covid-19 pandemic not just for work meetings, but for social fun and personal catch-up sessions with family. Though Zoom and other video conference platforms have saved the day with their accessibility, they are more exhausting than in-person conversations. Why is that?
“Social scientists say it’s the result of the sudden mass adoption of technology that’s disrupting the normal, instinctual and finely-tuned way of communicating that developed to help humans survive.”
Zoom fatigue, which isn’t exclusive to Zoom itself, can be caused by various conditions of the digital teleconference that all but replaces real-life socialization. And if transitioning from remote to in-office isn’t for you, then you might want to alleviate some of these concerns so that the exhaustion of video meetings doesn’t interfere with your productivity.
Zoom viewer settings make speakers feel as if they’re under a microscope, not only to those listening but to themselves as well. A focus on every nervous twitch, uncooperative hair strand, and uncomfortable shift in your seat creates an undesirable distraction from important topics at hand. Like the production of a grand show, zoom meetings have made your desktop a stage to be critical of, and our biggest critics are ourselves.
In making sure that you’re presenting your best self in a professional setting, there’s an act of overanalyzing appearance, backgrounds, sound, and lighting that can derail a speaker from contributing to a video conference call. This constant self-evaluation leads to negative emotions and significantly impacts how we perform and the perception of the message we’re trying to deliver.
Similar to the performance of speaking is the performance of listening while in a video meeting. Our eyes are said to be the windows of the soul, and the intense stares needed to show attentiveness and professionalism in a zoom session would make anyone want to draw the curtains.
Brady Bunch-style video blocks require a way of expressing participation in a non-verbal way, which includes concentrating your gaze in one spot on your monitor for long periods of time.
Active listening has never needed prolonged eye contact, but it’s the most recognized way of showing engagement with video conferencing. This makes multitasking or web surfing more noticeable and implies a distracted or uninterested listener.
As you’re staring at the speaker who’s staring at you staring at them, consider what it may look like if they notice your eyes wandering the screen, or the split-second refocus back to the camera for a late nod or head shake.
Non-verbal cues are how we extrapolate information from in between the lines of a speaker. However, with a limited scope of body language, a conversation can feel choppy or disjointed without a natural flow of responsiveness. How do we cipher the difference between a speaker finishing their point, a temporary pause between ideas, or a frozen screen? Now that’s the million dollar question!
Trying to interpret the right moment to respond can lead to minor delays that can, in turn, cause speakers to believe you’re not listening or paying attention. A study in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies concluded that as short as a 1.2 second delay negatively influenced how the responder is perceived.
Though we can’t always account for technological lag in zoom calls, we can for sure take responsibility for pounding the “mute” option a handful of times, unintentionally postponing our response.
There are a handful of suggestions that can be made to limit Zoom fatigue, or at the very least, make it more manageable. With restrictions on social distancing being lifted, there’s a workforce determined to get back into the office, but that doesn’t mean video conferences will become a thing of the past. So, let’s be proactive about combating zoom fatigue with some helpful tips!
Take a crack at learning the shortcuts of whatever program you’re using for video conferencing. It’ll make navigating your screen while in a meeting less distracting for yourself and others in the call with you.
Recording a zoom meeting (with permission) will relieve some of the pressure from looking disinterested while taking notes or checking other tasks on your phone or desktop. It also lets meeting holders know that you value the information shared enough to review it after the fact.
With chat and reaction functions for most video meeting platforms, responding and participating in zoom calls can flow more efficiently and with less interruption. Instead of nodding vigorously to show speakers you agree, use a “thumbs up” or use the “raise hand” option to let them know you’re ready to add to the conversation.
If you’re unsure whether you’re experiencing zoom fatigue or if you’d like to gauge your exhaustion and frustration with video meetings in general, then you’re in luck because Stanford has designed a Zoom exhaustion & fatigue scale. The short survey will lead to a better understanding of common problems, practices, and solutions for feeling worn out by video conferencing. Let’s embrace Zoom and say goodbye to fatigue!
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