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Zoom Fatigue Is Real: Here’s How To Beat It

September 2, 2020

There’s a new problem arising. If you are like me, you might have searched for reasons why you feel so fatigued when you use Zoom. Many people are now finding out about Zoom fatigue.

However, it isn’t just about Zoom. It is the exhaustion you face when you do long hours of video conferencing and video calls. This can be Google Meet, Skype calls, Microsoft Team, you name it.

I did my research and found out why Zoom meetings gave me this feeling of exhaustion. There have been studies to show why video conferencing calls make you feel tired. It’s not only Zoom!

These are some reasons why Zoom or video calls give you fatigue:

  • having to focus on more than one face
  • having to pay attention to non-verbal cues
  • having to pay far more attention than usual
  • straining to hear what others are saying
  • straining to look at unclear images
  • sitting down for long hours in a bad posture

Here Is What I Did To Reduce The Effects Of Zoom Fatigue

Here are some things that I tried, with some seeing more success than others. If you are struggling with fatigue during long video conferencing sessions, you can try some of these.

zoom meeting on laptop

1. Use Speaker View so that you only have to focus on one face at a time

When doing conference calls in Zoom, the faces of participants are shown on the right. It can be tiring when you subconsciously pay attention to many faces.

When someone is doing a presentation or screen sharing, you can set it to Speaker View so that you look at less places and you won’t have to shift your eyes around as much.

2. Use the Zoom screen and webcam on a secondary screen to the side so that you don’t constantly focus on the video and faces

Studies showed that when you unconsciously look at faces for visual cues, you increase your strain.

Thus, I tried to look away from the faces whenever I didn’t have to look at the screen. Since I use a double monitor setup, I placed the Zoom call on the secondary screen to the side. I turned and faced the call only when someone had something to share on their screen.

Of course, this method isn’t always possible, such as during a training or client calls. This may also appear rude to some people, so make sure the other party understands your actions.

3. Ask if you can do meetings without video camera and just use voice calls

Ask if the other person will allow you to do the meeting without the video camera. Doing just a voice call can cut down on the visual stimuli that may tire some people out.

One thing you can do is to turn on the video for the introductions, and then ask to cut off the video feed.

4. Use earphones so that you can hear more easily

I found that when I used earphones instead of the computer speakers to listen to the people talking, I could hear them more easily and didn’t have to strain as much.

Sometimes, your laptop speakers aren’t the best at playing back voices or the background ambient noise can affect your listening experience. When you use earphones and strain less to hear, you feel less fatigued.

Using earphones that block out background noise can also help you focus better on the call.

headphone with microphone

5. Put the mic closer to your mouth so you don’t have to shout

One thing I noticed is that I generally don’t talk a lot and I don’t talk very loudly. This may have contributed to my exhaustion whenever I have to speak at length.

Talking on video calls also requires me to speak at a higher volume which tires me out even more. Hence, you can make things easier for yourself by using a earphone or headphone with a mic that you can place close to your mouth. This reduces the need for you to raise your voice.

In addition, avoid using the laptop’s mic as the sound quality on the participant’s end may not be as clear and you’ll have to keep on repeating yourself.

6. Mute everyone when they are not supposed to talk

Whether you are the host or a participant, you can request everyone to mute themselves when it’s not their turn to speak. As the host, you have the ability to mute everyone.

This helps the flow of the call and reduces distractions as there will be no ‘uh huh’, ‘yeah’ and other random expressions that break up the flow. You will also be less annoyed and distracted by noises like the wind, people coughing, sneezing, and the occasional rude person.

Not only does this make the call a more enjoyable experience for everyone, it also helps to shorten the call due to lesser interruptions. Most importantly, you won’t waste your energy on trying to hear what the random person is saying.

7. Use the chat instead of jumping into the conversation

One other way to make the flow of the call smoother is to encourage questions to be raised in the chat. You can also encourage participants to use the “Raise Hand” function in Zoom if they have a question that can’t be easily typed out.

By doing these, the speaker’s focus is not broken as much, and the flow of the call will be interrupted less often. What’s even better is that someone else in the group may help to answer the question in the chat. All these will help to reduce the mental load of the speaker.

8. Sit with a proper posture and be as ergonomic as possible

If you know that you are going to be engaged in a long call, make sure you are seated as ergonomically correct as possible. Sitting on a comfortable ergonomic chair can go a long way in reducing your body’s fatigue.

If you have to concentrate on the screen for long hours, make sure the monitor height is just below eye level and at a comfortable distance.

9. Take breaks every 45 minutes when possible

If you know that your call will drag on for hours, try asking for a quick break every 45 minutes. This gives you the opportunity to stretch your body and to rest your senses.

If you are the host of the call, keep this in mind. Give frequent breaks so that your participants stay comfortable and focused.

10. Avoid multi-tasking while on the call so that you are not mentally strained

I always have the urge to multi-task during a video call when I am not a priority member of the call. I could be a sit in or I’m part of a video training course.

Resist this urge to tab out to do your own work, as this can add to the mental focus needed.

eye fatigue

11. Taking precautions with the screen

To make it more comfortable for yourself and other participants in the call, take note of these pointers. These are tips for when you need to present, watch a presentation, or do a screen-share.

  • Opt for a higher resolution so you don’t have to strain your eyes.
  • When someone is sharing their screen, request that they increase the font size to make it easier for you to read.
  • Likewise, if you are to give a presentation, make sure the words on your slides are big enough to read comfortably.
  • Don’t stare into the screen all the time.

To recap.

How to beat Zoom fatigue:

  1. Use Speaker View to focus on only one face at a time
  2. Put the Zoom call on a second screen
  3. Do the Zoom meeting without video
  4. Use earphones or headphones
  5. Put the microphone closer to your mouth
  6. Mute everyone else that is not speaking
  7. Type in the chat instead of talking
  8. Sit with a proper posture
  9. Take regular breaks
  10. Avoid multi-tasking
  11. Taking precautions with the screen

Having video calls and conferences could be a major part of both our personal and work lives from now on. I hope these tips can help to improve the quality of your time spent on-screen.

If you have any other ideas, please leave a comment and share them with us.

Marc

Marc has worked from home for over 10 years, started as a freelancer, then a consultant, all the way up to being a marketing agency owner. He's an entrepreneur at heart, and is passionate about helping others find success in remote working.

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