Raise your hand if you are tired of the constant Zoom meetings! It is not just Zoom though, all of the popular video conferencing platforms have the same issues and cause the same problems. Can you still remember a year back when maybe you were excited at first to work from home and meet on Zoom instead of in-person? No need to spend time traveling and I can wear my pyjama pants during work hours? Yes please! Fast forward a year and most of us are exhausted – yet another Zoom meeting. I just want to have a real coffee with someone face-to-face!
Stanford researchers have found out 4 causes of Zoom fatigue and their simple fixes:
1. An excessive amount of eye contact
Cause: The amount of faces as well as the size of them on Zoom meetings is unnatural. Normally in a larger meeting we would be dividing our time looking at the speaker, writing notes and maybe gazing away, but now we spend all of our time staring at a screen with multiple eyes staring back at us. With large monitors the sizes of the faces are too big as well. Our brains interpret this as someone being close to us – in our personal space. Normally someone would come so close for only two reasons, mating or conflict – both of which cause us to be hyper aroused.
Fix: Try exiting the full screen view of the meeting and instead reduce the size of that window so that the faces appear smaller. You can also try to use an external keyboard in order to increase the space between you and the screen so that the people do not appear to be in your personal space.
2. Seeing yourself real time
Cause: Did you ever try to have a meeting with someone or give a speech to an audience and also look at yourself in the mirror while doing so? Probably not. It is unnatural for us to be seeing ourselves constantly. This allows us to be more critical of our own actions and this causes a lot of stress.
Fix: After entering a Zoom meeting and seeing that you are positioned correctly in front of the camera turn off the function to see your own image. There’s no need for us to be looking at ourselves constantly.
3. Reduced mobility
Cause: It is normal for us to walk and move around during in-person meetings. We tend to perform better when we move around a little bit. However, during online meetings we are strictly bound to sit still in front of the cameras.
Fix: Placing an external camera further away can give you a little bit more space for movement. During larger Zoom meetings it can be a good rule to allow everyone to turn off their cameras periodically to get some non-verbal rest.
4. Non-verbal cues
Cause: Non-verbal communication is a big part of how we communicate, but it works very differently online. Firstly, you constantly have to be aware of your position on the camera frame. Secondly, small gestures on camera can be unnoticed. Instead of a small nod we have to do a thumbs up. Taking a gaze at something else during an in-person conversation appears very different from looking away from the screen during a Zoom call. Having to pay attention to the way that we communicate can be very exhausting long term.
Fix: If you have to go through long online meetings give yourself an audio only break. Turning off your camera and turning away from the screen periodically can have a big impact on your energy.