Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, people around the world have used Zoom to attend virtual business meetings and connect safely with loved ones. By April 2020, the video conferencing platform was attracting 300 million meeting participants every day, despite a number of security issues. This incredible success is reflected in the value of Zoom stock, which has risen by almost 400% over the past year.
But there is a downside to this amazing technology. Have you ever noticed that participating in Zoom meetings leaves you feeling drained? If you have, you could be suffering from a condition that’s become known as Zoom fatigue. Thankfully, there are a number of simple steps you can take to avoid experiencing the symptoms.
1. Start Well
If your lockdown Zoom meetings have been blighted by technical issues and distracting backdrops, it’s time to take action. There are several things you can do to make your next video chat less stressful.
Make sure that your internet connection is stable. If it’s not, try moving your laptop closer to your router or disabling HD options. You could also check that no family members are streaming movies or gaming during your meeting.
Video & Sound
Make sure you can be heard clearly. While your laptop should have a microphone, investing in a wireless headset will make a huge difference. You’ll get the chance to check the quality of your audio and video when you download Zoom.
Make sure that you sit somewhere well lit. Natural light is best, so if you’ve been cosying up in the darkest corner of your living room, try moving to an area that’s near to a window. Alternatively, you could buy a small webcam light.
Avoid cluttered backgrounds. If this is tricky, why not choose a backdrop from Zoom’s own selection? You can also upload your own backdrops.
Make sure that you know how to mute and unmute, how to change view, how to comment and how to share your screen. If you need help with any of these features, the Zoom website has all the information you’ll need.
2. Turn off the Self-View Feature
Being on camera during Zoom meetings means that you’re having to stare at your own face for long periods of time. This is incredibly distracting, particularly if you’re self conscious about your appearance.
Thankfully, the creators of Zoom have provided an escape route- the ability to hide self view. But before you select this option, it’s always best to open up the camera app and test it out. Once you’ve checked that you’re looking presentable, that the lighting is okay and that you’re sitting in the right position, you’re good to go.
If you’re really struggling with watching yourself on camera, we recommend asking the meeting organiser whether you can just listen to the session, without appearing on camera. You could even opt to dial in via phone.
3. Choose Speaker View
Video calls require more concentration than face-to-face conversations, as they make it harder to pick up on non-verbal cues such as tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. Things become even more confusing when you’re faced with a gallery of up to 49 different faces set against distracting backgrounds.
To make your Zoom meeting less draining, we suggest selecting speaker view, which displays a large image of the current speaker and a smaller thumbnail of the previous speaker. As well as helping you to connect with the individuals on the screen, this option should make your video calling session feel a little more like a normal meeting.
4. Don’t Try to Multitask
While flicking through your emails during a video conference might seem like a good way to save time, it’s actually likely to make you less productive. According to social scientists at the University of Michigan, this is because people who multitask suffer from distraction and a reduced attention level compared with people who complete tasks consecutively.
Our recommendations? Set aside a couple of slots during the day to check your email box and your social media feeds, but avoid checking them when you’re in a virtual meeting. You can make this a little easier for yourself by closing any tempting tabs and popping your mobile phone into a drawer.
5. Take Breaks
Sitting still for long periods isn’t good for our health, according to scientific research. So it’s best to take a break between Zoom meetings, even if you can only spare five or ten minutes. When you’re in the privacy of your own home, it’s easy to use this time to move around, stretch and generally recharge.
Of course, working and socialising online can also have adverse effects on our waistlines, particularly if we don’t have much time in between video calls. To avoid this, stock up on healthy snacks like dried fruit, oat cakes, nuts and dark chocolate, as these will help you to stay energized without piling on weight.
6. Add Variety
If you find yourself feeling fatigued after a day of Zoom calls, try doing things a little differently the following day. You could even cancel one of your meetings and replace it with a good old-fashioned phone call or an email chat. And if you know that a particular meeting isn’t essential, don’t be afraid to say that you can’t make it.
A change of place can also be energizing, so why not set up your computer in a different room from time to time? If you’re craving fresh air and sunshine, relocating to a favourite spot by an open window could transform your day.