You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing!
Boss: “What do you think?”
Me: [going to the bathroom]
Boss: “Can you hear me?”
Me: [getting another beer]
Boss: “I think he's on mute.”
Me: [getting chips]
Me: “Sorry I was on mute”
Do you feel exhausted after attending too many back-to-back virtual video meetings?
Virtual meeting fatigue became big news as significant sectors of the population attended school and worked remotely during the CoVid pandemic.
Dr. Mitchell, a neurologist at Sunnybrook, says, "We require additional effort and sustained attention during video meetings," "The added strain on our attentional systems and other cognitive processes can leave us feeling exhausted."
Imagine going to a three-day all-day conference. The sessions are all back-to-back, with no breaks, no time for personal interaction, no time to check your emails or call your spouse. Probably time to eat or go to the bathroom! That would be exhausting!
Yes, there are some distinctive benefits to video calls as it's more personal and interactive, it:
Facilitates conversation details when you see the person's face and body language.
Improves conversation engagement as it's closer to the feeling of a real face-to-face meeting.
Improves Team Building
But, there are also pitfalls to avoid - you can have too much of a good thing as well!
Here are our top tips based that are experiential and research-based that provide relief and make video calls less exhausting. Pick a few that YOU resonate with and would be easy to implement. Experiment and try others over time.
Avoid multitasking. Research reveals doing multiple things at once cuts into performance. Swapping between tasks can undermine as much as 40 percent of your productivity. Researchers at Stanford found that people who multitask can't remember things as well as their more singularly focused peers. So on your next video conference call, close your other programs and tabs that will distract you. Yes, that includes your inbox and chat. Turn off your mobile phone. And be present, focused – and ultimately less exhausted.
Take a break!
Schedule frequent short breaks. Do something else; work on that other project; check your Email; take a walk. Make lunch, an espresso, or a smoothie. What you eat also impacts fatigue.
Schedule and protect breaks on your calendar. Control your calendar, don't let your calendar control you!
Limit the meeting duration. There is a tendency to default to 60-minute meetings. Schedule more 30-minute appointments – better yet, make it a 25-minute session; now you have time to go to the bathroom! If it has to be 60 minutes, make it 50 or at most 55 minutes.
Stand up! In one 7-week study, participants who stood more often at their desks reported less fatigue and stress than those seated the entire day. Additionally, 87% of those standing reported increased vigor and energy throughout the day. If you don't have a stand-up desk, use a cardboard box. That's how the founder of VARIDESK® started! Additionally, if you're making a virtual presentation, you will have way more energy in a standing position than sitting down!
Make space for fun. Start personal. It's okay to come in a few minutes early. You would do that in a face-to-face meeting. Connect personally with others and make the conversation fun. As others join, we are talking at a personal level first – just like you would as you enter a real conference room. I change my virtual backdrop every week, which makes for a fun conversation starter – it might be from a vacation trip or an amusing crazy background that invites a fun initial conversation.