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Zoom Fatigue - Fact or Fiction

This week marked a year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. And within days of the announcement, we were all thrust into a new way of working. All but essential workers were ordered to stay home. Collectively, we had to figure out how to stay connected.

Enter zoom. At Butler Street, we were using it already for team meetings and continuous improvement sessions. It’s a great tool and we immediately prioritized using it as effectively as possible. We found several ways to increase connectedness with our prospects, our clients, each other and (most importantly for our business) delivering impactful, interactive and engaging training.

We also developed specific training on how to effectively utilize video platforms in selling and leadership to help our customers acquire, retain, and grow their clients.

However, most people spent the last year getting used to embracing video as a form of communication. Moving from never having video meetings to…. never-ending video meetings.

Enter zoom fatigue. It’s a thing, but it doesn’t have to be. And we certainly don’t want it to become a “socially acceptable excuse” that prevents growth.

Here are 4 ways you can prevent zoom fatigue from setting in:

1. Turn off your self-view

I have a mirror in my office, but I don’t stare at it all day and I never made a live sales call while looking in the mirror. And yet, that is what is happening on video calls - we are looking at ourselves.

Professor Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL), examined the psychological consequences of spending hours per day on video platforms. He cites how critical we are of our own reflection.

“It’s taxing on us. It’s stressful. And there’s lots of research showing that there are negative emotional consequences to seeing yourself in a mirror.”

Take a look at the examples below. Imagine I am having a client meeting with my colleague, Joel.

I can look at the two of us side by side,

I can focus on Joel and have a small image of myself,

or, I can turn my self-view off.

Tip to help:

  • Check yourself in the preview to ensure your lighting and backgrounds are good and then, turn all your attention to your prospect or client by turning your self-view off.

2. Move

If you are tied to your computer all day, it is unhealthy and will definitely cause fatigue. Just because you have camera doesn’t mean it always needs to be used.

Tips to help:

  • If you are the host of the meeting, determine when you can do “walk and talks” instead of video calls.

  • Strategically think about the purpose of the call, what needs to be accomplished and your role in the call. Some meetings are just better voice to voice.

  • If video is the right choice, and often it is, invest in a webcam and set your space up so you can stand, move and stretch a bit. Stand up desks are amazing and do wonders to prevent fatigue!

3. Control your schedule

Back-to-back-to-back zoom meetings (or any other meetings for that matter) will drive fatigue and burnout.

Tips to help:

  • Strive to give yourself 15 minutes between meetings and at least 10. You need time for your mind to relax and adjust before the next meetings starts.

  • Schedule 45 or 30-minute meetings instead of an hour. I’ve heard people say “I’ve been on 11 straight hours of zoom calls,” I’ve seen people having lunch and dinner delivered from a family member to their desk because of zero time to step away.

  • Own your schedule let people know you have a hard stop at XX time to ensure you get your reset and refocus time.

4. Focus on relationship building

Starting meetings on time is wonderful– it shows respect for everyone’s most precious commodity – time! That said, it doesn’t mean you have to start every meeting with “okay, we’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started” In fact, no meeting should begin that way. If you are worried that zoom fatigue is creeping into your organization, in addition to implementing the first 3 bullet points, take some time to talk and be invested in the whole person – not just the work.

Tips to help:

  • Log in a couple minutes early to chit-chat and strengthen bonds

  • Start an internal meeting with a round robin of “what’s on your mind?” or "what are you grateful for today?”

  • Start a large meeting or training with upbeat music as people log-in

If it’s not a professional sales call, executive-level client meeting or similar type meeting, be okay with a come as you are approach. Some of my most connected discussions with clients this year have been when one or both of us were wearing gym clothes or baseball caps.

I’ll be dating myself, but I remember when email was first introduced. That little envelope that popped up with “you got mail” was so exciting. Couldn’t wait to open and read whatever was being sent across the ether. Certainly, that novelty has worn way off and managing today’s volume of emails is a developed skill. It’s the same for video - the novelty may be wearing off, but it’s usefulness in building relationships, increasing productivity, improving communications, and providing freedom to work from anywhere is enormous. Let’s get ahead of zoom fatigue and don’t let it hinder your personal or professional growth.

At Butler Street, we help companies and their people grow by developing new skills to solve their customer’s problems. We provide process and checklists to help you make the best decisions on how to stay connected, develop strong client relationships, and win your plays! Contact us.


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