How to Overcome Virtual Meeting Fatigue

Virtual meetings are mentally exhausting. And, if this is the new normal, we have to follow a proper system to improve everyone’s experience. Here are ways to overcome virtual meeting fatigue.

The Covid-19 pandemic hit, and the lockdown, made us explore and navigate new terrains in terms of the ways we work and how to get work done. Now that social distancing is a must, most of our social connections – both personal and professional – are done though cameras and screens. Thanks to technology, as it allows us to collaborate, perform, and stay employed and connected even just through our virtual presence.

Virtual meetings can be very convenient. It is easy to schedule and only requires minimal setup. Attendees only need to decently dress the upper half of the body, keep the hair neatly, and look presentable. Considering its convenience, at least compared to live meetings, virtual meetings are quite exhausting.

The dependence of most work environment to virtual meetings has led to the rise of Zoom fatigue, or virtual meeting exhaustion. This phenomenon happens when one is mentally exhausted because of online meetings.

“Considering its convenience, at least compared to live meetings, virtual meetings are quite exhausting.”

Virtual Meetings are Mentally Tiring

Virtual meetings require more focus than face-to-face communication. Extra effort must be exerted in processing facial expressions, tone and pitch of voice, and body language. Adding more in the conflict is the conscious effort to maintain proper meeting protocols – sitting in full attention, nodding appropriately, and maintaining eye contact. And since everyone is seen in the virtual meeting room, the social pressure to perform adds more to the stress. All these, on top of the usual brain processes, can really be mentally taxing.

External factors add up to the stress. Technical errors, which we hardly have control over, such as computer lagging, poor connection, inaudible sounds, and system crashes turn an initially scheduled 30-minute meeting to an hour or more.

Distractions within the household like playing children and even pending house chores can also split the attention. These, and all other external factors one can think of, overwhelm the brain and create a perplexed sense of mental drain.

Overcoming Virtual Meeting Fatigue

If virtual meeting is the new normal, a proper system must be followed to improve everyone’s virtual meeting experience.

1. In Virtual Meetings, Less is More

If you happen to have control over the schedule and the frequency of virtual meetings, limit the meetings only for those that are necessary. Holding meetings to discuss things that can be easily communicated through email or text messages is practically pointless. There is no reason to gather everyone just to “check in”.

Quality over quantity matters. Avoid the overuse of technology. Meet only for those that are valuable and cannot be discussed through other means. Believe it or not, some information is better absorbed through old school methods such as email.

2. Build in breaks between online meetings

Many of us wake up to a day filled with virtual meetings. Though it is very tempting to go on back-to-back meetings, we need that little space to breathe, stretch, or have a drink. Having a buffer of at least 10 to 15 minutes between meetings allows you to pull yourself together. This time gap, no matter how short, resets and refreshes the brain.

3. Have short yet meaningful virtual meetings

Though spending time to check on other’s well-being is suggested before diving into business to reconnect and maintain trust, we do not need to spend so much time on it. Keep the virtual meetings short and straight to the point. Avoid discussing topics that are not part of the agenda as it will just make you off track.

Preparation is key in having short yet meaningful meetings. Make a list of the points to be discussed and make all attendees know about it at least a day before. Be prepared so when the virtual meeting is set, you do not have to push your brain a little too hard in processing your thoughts.

4. Utilize team and project management software

Virtual meetings are not always the solution in keeping everyone on task. Make use of software and apps like Asana and Trello in posting the tasks and checking the progress of each of your members. These platforms enhance collaboration and, improve efficiency and work quality without the need to be physically present.

Reset and reboot regularly

Monitor your exhaustion and disconnect from the system regularly. No need to feel guilty if you feel like logging off. Give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself. You will be at your best if you treat yourself well.

Jes Roque-Medina

Jes is a mother, a wife, an educator, a beauty blogger, and a liver donor. Presently, she works as a freelance administrative support specialist and content writer to give time to what matters most – her #BraveSaab. Know more about her through her blog: www.jesroque.com and her Instagram: @jesroque

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