Zoom fatigue is a genuine concern for the millions of people who use video conferencing services, particularly this past year when these platforms became the number one communication tool for professionals, family, friends, and even doctors.
Video conferences fundamentally lack things that are important for synchronous communication. Issues like broken headsets, choppy internet access, or micro-delays force people to pay more attention during meetings. Difficulty detecting microexpressions is particularly relevant to Zoom fatigue. It easily confuses people and can lead to other types of miscommunication.
Here are some strategies to help you with fatigue prevention to remain focused on your Zoom calls.
Non-screen breaks mean getting up and staying away from the computer for a while. These are especially important to have between video conference meetings. Try to have at least ten minutes to get up and move around before you need to look at another screen again.
Cluttered backgrounds are distracting and can increase zoom fatigue. Clutter includes things like other people, home art and decor, and even distracting colors. If possible, try to coordinate backgrounds with other participants on the call.
For example, if everyone has the same plain white background, you won’t get nearly as distracted by different colors in different places.
Specifically, try to be lit from the front. This helps reduce shadows and improves overall video quality. It also helps maximize the clarity of your expressions. Lighting can have a huge impact on how you look, so make sure you test your lighting setup to be sure you look the way you want to. The less time you spend worrying about your appearance, the more energy you’ll have for the intended topic of conversation.
You don’t need to exit every program when you’re on a Zoom call, but try to minimize them to ensure you’re not looking at them or checking them while you’re in a call. The constant distraction of looking for new updates (emails, slack notifications) will wear you down while also making other people on the call feel like they don’t have your full attention. Neither is useful.
One of the best ways to declutter your screen is switching to a full-screen mode. Alternatively, you can hide your taskbar to make it less noticeable while you’re in your call.
Headsets that are of lesser quality aren’t a great choice for long-term use for work meetings. It’s worth investing in getting a high-quality headset. Here are the characteristics to look for:
- Over The Ear: Headsets that go completely around the ears —without pressing on them — are significantly more comfortable for long-term use. Many good headsets have memory foam or other pads, and they don’t apply too much pressure when you wear them.
- Noise Cancellation Technology: Noise cancellation technologies significantly reduce all audio from beyond the headset. This reduces distractions and lets you focus more on what other people are saying.
- Good Speakers: Your speakers do not need to be made for professional sound engineers, but high-quality speakers will provide better audio and reduce the risk of missing quieter statements.
- Excellent Microphone: Good microphones can reduce ambient noises in your audio that can distract others. Imagine hearing different droning hums from six or seven microphones at the same time. It’s terrible! Great microphones rarely have that problem, though.
- Audio Controls: Quality headsets also have audio controls, meaning you can raise or lower the audio to the headsets without having to fiddle with your computer settings. Good headsets also have a mute button so you can discreetly terminate your audio input without having to change controls anywhere else.
Professional gaming headsets usually meet all of these criteria, so that’s a great place to start looking for a new headset.
If possible, try to get a headset that matches your background. For example, if you’re using a plain white background, then white headphones will blend into that, whereas red headphones would just call attention to themselves.
Choose Presenter View so that the person speaking always appears on center stage. This is preferable to gallery view, which will show the entire audience as well. Squinting at a smaller video feed in the corner of your screen isn’t nearly as natural, and worse, it has you looking away from the camera on everyone else’s screen.
Zoom meetings can easily drone on if everyone goes off-script. The key to keeping time is following an agenda to ensure the meeting progresses as scheduled. When you’re presenting, prepare notes ahead of time and make your points concise and straightforward. The best strategy is to offer brief information and any actionable points your team needs.
If you’re an audience member who can ask questions of the presenter, adopt the same strategy when asking for clarification or elaboration. Shorter questions that require quick answers are ideal for Zoom meetings; lengthy explanations may require a separate meeting altogether.
Michael is a copywriter based out of Toronto, Canada who’s love for writing began at an early age. He’s passionate about helping brands create loyalty through impactful and authentic storytelling. You can learn more about Michael’s work on his website here.