If you’re anything like us at the Optimist Daily, you’re probably feeling exhausted by virtual meetings. We spoke about it amongst ourselves while on Zoom and decided to look around to see if others were feeling the same. Apparently, we’re not alone.
In an article for National Geographic, Julia Sklar explains how mentally draining it can be to do virtual meetings all day—something she calls “zoom fatigue.” She explains that this “Brady Bunch-style” screen option challenges the central vision of the brain, “forcing it to decode so many people at once that no one comes through meaningfully, not even the speaker.” She also notes that group video chats run the risk of becoming less collaborative, because only one “conversation” can take place effectively at a time, and we are unable to recognize the behavior of other participants, something she notes we would perceive through peripheral vision during a live meeting.
She explains that for some zoom participants, “the prolonged split in attention creates a perplexing sense of being drained while having accomplished nothing. The brain becomes overwhelmed by unfamiliar excess stimuli while being hyper-focused on searching for non-verbal cues that it can’t find.”
So, how can we fight back against zoom fatigue?
One way is to realize that we’re simply overusing virtual meetings. Having fewer meetings of shorter duration can make video conferencing more valuable, capitalizing on the ease of transmitting important information, streamlined and succinct. And for companies with multiple divisions, the additional business can be conducted in break out rooms. Fewer people means less pressure, which might make people feel more comfortable and able to speak freely. Smaller virtual groups are often more cohesive, resulting in increased rapport.
In your own personal life, it might be wise for your well-being to be a bit more selective with whom you do virtual calls and for how long you speak. And if you really need to talk, the good old telephone still works so you don’t have to fixate on a screen.