Zoom Fatigue

Women's sleep and tired from work on table work in quarantine for coronavirus 2019 disease. Work from home concepts.

Over the last few months, we’ve all done more Zoom, Skype, BlueJeans or WebEx meetings than we care to remember. Initially, video conferencing was a great remedy when sequestered, and a panacea for ugly commutes. But why are they so exhausting?

Video calls require more focus than face-to-face meetings. First, you’re fighting distractions—from emails, texts and websites, to external noise and activities including pets and children.

Next. Because you’re on camera, usually in a close-up, you can’t help but check to see how you look and how you’re doing—instead of maintaining eye contact. Plus, most of us don’t like being watched so closely. So, we feel the need to perform rather than communicate. Add to that, a small computer screen makes it difficult to process non-verbal cues, (like vocal tone and pitch) or read facial expressions. And if anyone is silent, it creates tension, because to pause feels odd in this medium.

To paraphrase Gianpiero Petriglieri, Assoc. Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD “…Every time you see someone online, it reminds you we should be in the workplace together. What I'm finding is, we’re all exhausted. It doesn't matter whether you are an introvert or extrovert-- we are experiencing the same disruption of the familiar context… We are confined in our own space, in a very anxiety-provoking crisis, and our only interaction is via a computer window.”

What to do? Use the mindset of a film actor. Even with a large crew in close proximity and a camera focused on their face, an actor’s job is to be in the moment and tell their story. Like a seasoned performer, bring a freshness to each session you do. And wherever the camera is, that’s your point of focus, because audience connection is what matters most.

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