Even before the pandemic, Zoom had proven to be a great tool for virtual training. But when the pandemic struck, suddenly, Zoom became a go-to tool for just about every form of business interaction imaginable—from regularly recurring meetings to colleague-to-colleague interactions to hiring to performance reviews. In short, Zoom and similar tools became the default option for people to connect.
And while that ability to connect even when physically dispersed offered great benefits, it also resulted in the widely lamented “Zoom fatigue.”
Zoom fatigue is very real, in large degree because most employees have not been trained or coached on how to use the tool effectively. That’s a situation that Karin M. Reed and Joseph A. Allen, PhD, are setting out to remedy in their recently released book Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work (Wiley & Sons Publishing, 2021). In it, they offer a wide range of practical advice and tips organizations of all kinds and employees in a wide range of roles can implement to get more value out of the time they’re spending in virtual meetings while helping address the impacts of Zoom fatigue.
It’s Not Enough to Just Turn Your Camera On
We’re all now highly familiar with looking at ourselves on screen amid a sea of boxes populated by our colleagues, customers, and others. We’re not all that comfortable with the experience, though. The book recommends we think of the camera as “the conduit to your conversation partner” and that we focus not just on eyes but on conveying energy.
Think About Your ‘Personal Production Value’
Even more so than when in a traditional work setting, it’s important to think about the image you convey when online. That means, the authors say, “making sure you can communicate without distraction.” Watch for shadows, think about what’s in your background, and be aware of your facial expressions.
Don’t Over-Rely on Virtual Meetings
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should! Some meetings can be handled via phone, others can be handled through e-mail or online chat, and others still may simply not even need to take place!
“Zoom fatigue is not due to a problem with Zoom and similar platforms, but user error,” say Reed and Allen. Make sure you’re using the technology effectively—and sparingly. And make sure you’re sharing tips and best practices with employees, many of whom have never participated in these types of interactions before.