May 7, 2021

You’ve all heard it – and felt it – zoom fatigue from too many meetings online. Why are they so tiring and is there anything you can do about it?

Concentration takes energy

When you’re in a meeting that’s live with other people, you have other cues to know what is being communicated, other body language, being able to look over at your colleague’s notes, and less energy being spent on showing you are paying attention.

The smiling into the camera, watching your own video to make sure you look like you are paying attention and not fidgeting takes its toll. Having to smile, especially women, so as not to appear like you have a resting grouch face really depletes your energy.

What else are we doing during those online meetings? Listening out for noise makers in our surroundings: children, spouses, roommates, phones ringing with calls coming in… trying to manage potential disruptions adds to the stress level. Stress equals fatigue.

None of the above are as draining as sound quality. No matter how good the mics and the headphones are, transmitting sound two ways over the internet is not at a hundred percent. Especially when so many of us are using less robust home internet connections. When you find yourself straining to make sure you heard someone’s comment correctly, key points of a presentation, or internet delays, you’re adding on the energy zaps.

What can you do?

Headphones and ear buds can help, especially a set that will cancel outside noise so you can better hear the conversation.

Obviously, being able to close yourself in a room and have anyone else in your environment helping to protect your quiet really helps.

And the video of yourself? Put all vanity aside, close the view of yourself if you can, or at least minimize it, and put your energy into the other people in your meeting. If it’s a meeting with colleagues, suggest turning off video every other meeting, or do a greeting and catch up at the start, and then agree to turn video off.

Virtual meetings, online meetings, zoom meetings, however you call them, are definitely not going away. Make sure you schedule breaks, at least 15 minutes, between meetings, to rest your eyes and ears. Give yourself a stretch break, and don’t be too hard on yourself if after several hours of online meetings you need a cat nap!