7 ways to fight virtual meeting fatigue

December 03, 2020

Virtual meetings are exhausting; you press “leave the meeting” and breathe a sigh of relief. Many of us are finding that we are even more tired at the end of a workday than usual. Virtual meeting fatigue has become a real and unique challenge we’ve had to combat whilst working remotely.

Virtual meeting fatigue (or “zoom fatigue” as many know it by) is the phenomenon of feeling exhausted or burned out after using a video conferencing platform. On average, the number of hours spent in a team meeting has increased by 29% and in one-to-one meetings, it has increased by 24% since the start of the pandemic.

Virtual meetings, interactions or online social events drain our energy more than in-person meetings, and it isn’t hard to understand why. Virtual meetings require a much higher level of concentration. You have to focus and concentrate on the speaker, extract relevant information and you feel you have to make the extra effort to give social gestures so everyone knows you are paying attention. There is also a lot of set up involved. We worry whether the internet will work, what we look like, our backgrounds and making sure that loved ones won’t walk in mid-call.

Virtual meetings go against every primal instinct our brains have learnt over the years. Our brains can register the enlarged face filling the computer screen as threatening (even if we feel completely safe). Subconsciously the sustained eye-contact for extended periods can register as intimidating, engulfing the body with stress hormones. The problem isn’t helped by the fact that we can’t gauge our colleague’s body language over video. This makes it difficult to fully understand whether people are following the meeting and judge social cues. It is no wonder that we get off a video call and feel fatigued.

After all that, virtual meetings don’t sound too great. But don’t give up hope. We’ve rounded up our top 7 ways to fight virtual meeting fatigue.

1. Time limit

Keep your virtual meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes to limit fatigue. Research has shown that fatigue starts to set in at around 30-40 minutes after the start of a meeting so keeping it short and to the point will help to make sure that people aren’t drifting off and feeling drained after.

2. No agenda, no attenda

Our motto at Mentimeter. Make sure that everyone knows the reason for the meeting with a clear agenda in the meeting invite. You don’t want to waste people’s time and have a knock-on effect on their productivity. Keep your virtual meetings focussed and on task and always ask yourself whether the video meeting can be avoided by an email or quick phone call. 

3. Limit the attendees 

The best way to avoid virtual meeting fatigue is to not attend them! Remote working during the pandemic has caused a 13.5% increase in the number of attendees per meeting, but do all those people really need to be there? Think twice before inviting every single colleague into a virtual meeting that they don’t need to be in and if their attendance isn’t crucial add ‘optional’ to the meeting invite so they can decide for themselves. 

4. Take a break

If you have back-to-back meetings make sure you take a break in between. Book 5 minutes in your calendar to ensure you don’t have consecutive meetings. After all, I’m sure your colleagues will all understand and recognize how you feel. 

Try looking off into the distance and don’t look at bright screens to help your eyes recover for the next meeting. Standing up and moving around, even just in your kitchen will help to re-energize you for the next video call. 

5. Don’t multitask

Yes, it can be so tempting to read a Slack message or reply to an email during a meeting but it will not help your productivity in the long run. Research at Stanford University has shown that people who multitask have reduced memory and underperform on tasks that require sustained attention. Not only that but because you are flicking between different news outlets you could miss vital information in the meeting and be left playing catchup causing additional stress. 

So, before your next virtual meeting try and reduce on-screen distractions. Minimize other pages, close tabs or mute any alerts so you aren't tempted to switch and lose focus on the meeting.

6. Set virtual meeting rules

Virtual meeting etiquette is a must to avoid people speaking over each other. Mute when not talking to avoid any annoying or awkward background noises and keep your background as plain as possible. Encourage attendees to switch to Speaker view. The standard video gallery view can be overwhelming and distracting.  

Using Mentimeter for your presentations can help avoid talking over one another. Enable Comments From Audience to get some live reactions from attendees and enable the Q&A feature so that attendees can freely ask questions when one comes to mind without the fear of interrupting or speaking over someone.

7. Make the meeting interactive 

Make the virtual meeting interactive. Mentimeter is a great tool to make sure the virtual meeting isn’t a one-way conversation. Using Mentimeter as your presentation tool is perfect to encourage stimulating discussions and interesting conversions. Using the Question Type slides can be used as an icebreaker, a virtual check-in or to engage the attendees. 

Team Efficiency Tool

Team Efficiency Tool

Decide What to Focus On

Decide What to Focus On

Video conferencing fatigue is real but it can be avoided even if you participate regularly in virtual meetings with our 7 tips. See how Mentimeter can help boost engagement and productivity in your next video call.

Find out more about how to use Mentimeter for remote working and with video conferencing tools:

Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype (or any video conferencing tool of your choice) or Webex

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