I was catching up with my accountability partner Joy the other day, and she asked the million dollar question: “How do you not feel Zoom fatigue at all these virtual meetings? We’re all going from one meeting to the next, and it feels tiring after a while!”
She’s not the only person feeling like a Zoombie the past few months (Zoom Zombie). The pandemic put a halt to in-person meetings seemingly overnight, and online meetings became our new norm. Even with many companies now bringing staff back into the office, meetings are still taking place virtually. But that doesn’t mean it’s become any easier! Zoom fatigue is a phenomenon that emerged during the pandemic, where people feel tired or burned out from overusing virtual communication platforms.
If you’re the meeting organizer, you can help your attendees feel less fatigued and actually look FORWARD to your virtual meetings. I know – you might be giving me an incredulous look at this point. I promise you, it is possible!
Here are three tips:
1. Send an Agenda
I was training a marketing team last year, and the director was concerned about their virtual meetings not being very productive with staff from other departments. When I asked if an agenda was sent, she confessed “not always.” Well, that’s a problem. People like clarity, and want to understand exactly what will be happening at this meeting they’re being asked to attend. With attention spans being even shorter in the virtual environment, it’s that much more important to have an agenda sent ahead of time. It should not just include the topics to be discussed, but how much time will be allotted to each topic. If people will need to provide updates, include how much time each person will be allowed to speak. If you will need ideas for how to solve a problem or creating/improving a product or service, let attendees know in advance you will need their input. Don’t spring brainstorming on them at the meeting. That can take more time than you think, and puts pressure on them. Set expectations with an agenda!
2. Bring the Fun
I know you are professional, and so are your meeting participants. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add the fun factor to your meetings! You can do things that don’t take a lot of time or resources, but will bring a smile to their faces. When you’re sending your meeting invite, why not include a fun trivia question? It can be related to your meeting topic, your company, or something completely random. Let them know you’ll reveal the answer at the meeting, after they give their best guess. You can offer a prize for the winner if you want, like a $5 coffee gift card, or simply bestow the title of trivia king/queen upon them. You could also have a themed meeting where everyone has a virtual background of their favorite vacation spot or ask them to don their ugliest Christmas sweater during a December meeting. You just need a little imagination.
3. Give Breaks
When I was in kindergarten many moons ago, one of my favorite parts of the day was nap time. I’m not sure if they still do that in schools today, but teachers back then must have noticed how beneficial it was for us kids (and for them). After a full morning of learning, naps were the tool of choice for children to be refreshed for the rest of the afternoon. While we aren’t taking naps during work hours (at least not in the Unites States), giving a break during your virtual meeting is as close as it gets. Here’s a general rule of thumb: for a 90-minute meeting, give a 5-10 minute break at the 45-minute mark. For a two hour meeting, give a 10-15 minute break after an hour. It gives your attendees time to use the restroom, return calls, answer emails, or just zone out for a few minutes. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference for meetings over an hour long. Your participants will thank you!
Online meetings have become a part of our daily routines now, but they don’t have to be looked at with angst. As the meeting host, you really do have the great opportunity to exceed expectations of this being “just another meeting.” With a little forethought, you can help your attendees fend off Zoom fatigue.
If you liked these tips, you should join my next Virtual Impactful Presenting (V.I.P.) masterclass on Saturday, August 21, 2021 (postponed from July 10th). Learn the best strategies, practices, and tools to host unforgettable, engaging virtual meetings and presentations. Spots are limited! Details and registration here.
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As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- 1 Peter 4:10-11
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