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Are we suffering Zoom Fatigue?

The majority of us have now participated in online meetings and watched webinars via platforms such as Zoom and Facebook Live. As we eased into lockdown this way of working became the new normal, and we were left wondering why we didn’t always work like this – Surely this will be the future of how we work? Many felt that initial burst of excitement that you could ‘go to work’ and attend a meeting or conference without leaving the comfort of your own bedroom. However as the weeks turned into months, the novelty of this way of working started to wear off – The reality is that many people feel that meeting with people over the internet just isn’t the same as seeing that person in real life, or actually attending a conference in person. Not only that. But are we actually suffering from Zoom fatigue? Staring at a screen for even an hour can really make us feel tired. Why is this?

Why does looking at a screen make us feel tired?

Gianpiero Petriglieri is a professor of Organisational Behaviour and has this insight on why video conferencing can take it out of us: “Being on a video call requires more focus than a face-to-face chat. Video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. Our minds are together when our bodies feel we're not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally.”With this in mind, it’s no wonder that we are suffering from Zoom fatigue after online meetings and events. Essentially, we are not 100% there – But thankfully there are things we can do to make more of a success of our online events and leave our delegates and attendees feeling more energised and less weary.

Here are Soundbite’s recommendations for running meetings and conferences online

Get to the point - Keep presentations and meetings short and straight to the point we recommend each presentation to be around 10-12min long

It doesn’t all need to be live - If it is a live conference or webinar, don’t assume that the presentation needs to be live within that. Consider instead playing a pre-recorded presentation within the conference, with a live interactive session afterwards. It only takes a few ‘umms and arrrs’ from your presenter to lose your audience

Breaks – Just because your attendees are at home, doesn’t mean they don’t need a break. Allow plenty of opportunities for people to stretch, use the toilet and check messages

Online events are different - There has been a tendency recently to simply replicate a live conference format and place it online in the same format. This is a big mistake - Online events need a completely different approach

Are online events the new normal?

There’s no doubting that Zoom and other similar platforms for online events are incredibly useful tools, particularly in the current climate. However, it won’t ever completely negate the need for face to face communication and attending meetings, conferences and events in person. We can be grateful for both - Remote technology and web streaming have carried us through a pandemic and kept events and business going, but we’ll also be glad to get back to live conferences and meetings. Nothing beats face to face communication and no technology can replace people being physically present at a conference or event and the engagement this brings. We will however be better and more creative at running and producing online meetings. Quite simply online events and meetings are transactional and not relational.

Whilst society tentatively starts to return to some kind of normality, Soundbite will be here for plenty more hints and tips at how to make online events work for you. Head to our website for more info, or check back on the blog soon.


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