Wear Your Pants, Even in Virtual Meetings!
5 Ways to Avoid Mental Fatigue in Virtual Meetings
Virtual meetings have become so common that many companies are permanently changing travel policies and conducting job interviews over the wire. We even have a new term for it, “Zoom Fatigue”.
But it doesn’t matter which technology is being used, if people spend most of their time connecting with other people in virtual meetings, they are more tired than if they went into the office and attended all these meetings together, face-to-face.
Why are virtual meetings so exhausting?
As humans, we are wired to connect so we unconsciously pick up on other peoples’ states by reading body language, listening to voice patterns, and noticing shifts in behavior, even subtle ones. All that happens in our old brain and it is lightning fast.
Five Ways to Reduce Virtual Meeting Fatigue
Here are five easy ways to reduce cognitive overload in virtual meetings?
- Just say no. Decide if you really need to attend yet another virtual meeting. You may be able to get the information you need with a phone call, IM or text message.
Pick up the phone, instead.
- Schedule meetings in advance. If you are working from home, you may feel justified in setting up regular meetings “just to connect”. If these meetings are sandwiched between working meetings, they contribute to lower productivity from then entire team.
Make sure your meetings have a purpose, an agenda, and everyone who is invited needs to be there.
- Schedule regular meetings for 50 minutes. In most companies, meetings are scheduled every hour, on the hour. People don’t have time to get coffee (or make a pot), refill water, or take bio-breaks. If they need to be in the meeting and leave to take a much-needed break, they lose important information. Or people have to repeat, causing frustration and increasing stress levels.
If your culture has fallen into the trap of meetings every hour, on the hour, change the culture for your team. Give your people time to refresh (and get prepared) before the next meeting.
Wear your Pants
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a virtual GSD (Get Stuff Done) meeting that was three hours long. Our stretch breaks were guided by a fitness guru and really helped to keep us focused. During one of these breaks, a friend shared this story.