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How to banish ‘Zoom Fatigue’ and bring energy back to your meetings

We’re told that people are getting ‘Zoom Fatigue’, which results in meetings that lack energy and get too little accomplished. 

When people are logged-in to one monotonous meeting after another, each one demanding intense concentration, it’s no surprise that they are switching off. Switching off their cameras, sound and – more crucially – their engagement. 

And without engaged participation, the quality of meetings deteriorates to the point where not only is nothing getting done, but everyone is dreading the next virtual get-together.

When we were face-to-face, we’d build in downtime by walking from one event to the next, recharging with refreshments and a friendly chat. What are our online equivalents?

If you’re struggling to get what you need from your virtual meetings, it’s useful to know that a well-structured design can deliver results and leave people wanting to come back. 

The route to engagement is participation, and there’s an art to enticing your people to participate right from the start.

So what could be a quick win? 

I know one meeting leader who was despairing at the lack of staff involvement. He’d ask questions and get no response, put forward ideas that no one developed. He turned things around by: 

  • Starting his next meeting showing a backdrop of a room lined with empty chairs.
  • He explained to the participants, ‘Imagine this room full of empty chairs. When you all have your video cameras off, that’s what it feels like I am facing. I’m talking to an empty room, and it’s no fun.’
  • He invited them to switch their cameras on whenever possible, and they experimented for a few moments with whether people felt more connected when colleagues were looking directly into the camera or focusing on other parts of the screen or desks. They tested hiding their own video display so they didn’t have to keep looking at themselves, but others could still see them. 

It was already a much more interesting meeting! 

Apart from perking up with curiosity about what their manager might ask next, the participants were physically engaged, clicking on settings and moving their bodies around to different positions relative to the camera. The simple activity had their attention and they were participating.

Physical activity raises energy

Now you might say that people haven’t come to a meeting to be active. They’re committed only to watching, listening and perhaps talking if absolutely required. 

But that is not an engaged meeting – there will be no discussion, no advancing of a project. At best, you might communicate a few informative points, which could be more economically and efficiently accomplished by email. 

If it’s worth having a meeting, then it’s worth having engagement, and the physical activity can be as modest as everyone waving at everyone else they see on screen. It makes a difference, because it dispels the fatigue. Fresh thought processes and movement do us good.

If you want, you can take this a step further, using movement-based energisers just as you might in a face-to-face meeting. 

For example, you can quickly set up an amusing Zoom screen-dance by inviting everyone to work out whether they are a ‘top half’ or ‘bottom half’, then creating an improvised dance for about 30 seconds. It’s an instant blast of connection, collaboration and energy. 

It looks like this…  (Pictured during an Applied Improvisation Network meetup on Zoom. Picture Credit: Mallory Penney)(FIND PIC – from AIN FB page, perhaps)

AIN activity

If you’d like more tips and techniques up your sleeve for banishing Zoom fatigue, and running meetings and workshops – face-to-face and virtual – that get real results, please join the waiting list for The Inspirational Facilitator online programme. By signing up to our waiting list you’ll get priority booking when the course goes on sale.

(Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash)

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