Zoom Fatigue during Lockdown

Are you suffering from “Zoom” fatigue? Have you attended too many work, friend and family get togethers in the last few months? Are you quizzed to death? Do you face having to continue using online communication for the foreseeable future?

Before lockdowns started, we all thought the main problem was going to be too little eye contact in virtual meetings but we have discovered the reality is its too much. This level of eye contact is usually reserved for aggressive behaviour or amorous behaviour. And you have to look at yourself! By the way, contrary to some internet articles, where you look on the screen really does not matter.

There is another problem: gestures that facilitate turn-taking such as posture, glances and pauses are lost or slightly delayed so there is a lot of overtalking and awkwardness. And then there is that horrible two second period between the meeting end and the visual switch off. Will you overhear someone saying something derogatory?

Here are seven tips on how people can participate successfully in Zoom meetings. Do them yourself and if you have a team, share them with others.

1. Take some time to get your own setting and lighting right – raise your computer to eye level. Get the background right: personal touches make you interesting. Get rid of clutter
2. Punctuality really matters and take breaks in long meetings (or avoid long meetings)
3. Screen positioning: most of the upper half of your body should be visible and fill most of the screen. Use your hands
4. Use more intense communication: vocal tone, facial expressions and gestures should be a little more exaggerated
5. Learn the art of the pause so that others can speak
6. “Return the tennis ball” after you have spoken: what do you think?
7. You do not have to sit down

If none of this works, help is coming. Professor Bailenson from Stanford is working on “autopilot” for Zoom. This will grab footage of you listening attentively and put it on loop. Then you can go off and make yourself a coffee and no one will know.

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