: Sick of all those video calls? Four ways to get over ‘Zoom fatigue’

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of Americans into remote work, causing previously in-person meetings to be conducted over video chat platforms such as Zoom
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and Microsoft Teams
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But the pandemic has been part of our lives for nearly a year and many remote workers are experiencing “Zoom fatigue,” according to a recent study by Stanford University.

Here are four ways to get over Zoom fatigue:

Don’t use full screen mode

When people talk at an in-person meeting, its common to make some eye contact, but not for the entire meeting. Attendees can break eye contact by taking notes or looking around the room.

But during Zoom and other videoconferencing meetings, the amount of eye contact is dramatically increased, which can lead to an increase in anxiety.

“Social anxiety of public speaking is one of the biggest phobias that exists in our population,” professor Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, claimed in the study. “When you’re standing up there and everybody’s staring at you, that’s a stressful experience.”

Reducing the size of the window by exiting the full screen mode can make the faces staring at you smaller, and potentially reduce the social anxiety of public speaking.

Hide yourself from yourself

Many of the video meeting platforms have a separate box showing what you look like, which can lead to people being overly critical of themselves if it happens for extended periods of time, the study says.

“In the real world, if somebody was following you around with a mirror constantly — so that while you were talking to people, making decisions, giving feedback, getting feedback — you were seeing yourself in a mirror, that would just be crazy. No one would ever consider that,” Bailenson said.

Many of those platforms allow users to hide that self-view area, while still being able to be seen by the other people at the meeting.

Position your camera farther away and move

While at in-person meetings, it’s commonplace for people to pace or move in some way. Staring at a laptop screen while at a desk at home is a static way of interacting, which can lead to poor performance.

“There’s a growing research now that says when people are moving, they’re performing better cognitively,” Bailenson said.

By moving the camera back, people will be able to conduct those movements while still being visible on the video call.

Give yourself an “audio only” break

Having a conversation over video has a higher “cognitive load” than an in-person conversation, according to the study.

Specific nonverbal communication during a video chat like looking down could mean something different than it does in-person. Additionally, people on video calls tend to over-exaggerate gestures like nodding or giving a thumbs up.

Having an “audio only” break during long meetings can be a game changer, according to Bailenson.

“This is not simply you turning off your camera to take a break from having to be nonverbally active, but also turning your body away from the screen, so that for a few minutes you are not smothered with gestures that are perceptually realistic but socially meaningless.”

 
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