As an online business owner, you probably consider yourself a virtual meeting expert.
Knowing the ins and outs of what to do and when and how in all situations.
Lately, as we’ve started to unpause our lives – business, school, conferences, weddings, you name it – the level of time we’re spending on video call and meeting platforms seems to be creeping up A LOT.
That networking event you used to attend monthly? Well, it isn’t cancelled; it’s been moved online.
The wedding you were invited to? It’s being streamed on YouTube.
Sunday night dinner with your extended family is now a FaceTime bonanza.
Your daughter’s playdates are still happening on Zoom.
And all those in-person workshops that were fun, get-out-of-your-usual-routine events? Not rescheduled either. They’ve migrated to the virtual realms, too.
What people are calling ‘Zoom fatigue’ is real. Even those of us who have a business that relies on these platforms are feeling it.
It looks like virtually-hosted calls, workshops, coffee chats, conferences, networking events, friend gatherings, classrooms, and more will be how we connect and learn for the foreseeable future.
I don’t have a magic wand at the ready to wave it all away.
But… I do have a few practical tips and fun facts to share with you to help understand and alleviate the fatigue.
- One hour spent in a virtual meeting is equal to three hours of in-person time. The thing is, people and businesses aren’t scheduling meetings or workshops for shorter periods of time to account for this conversion. Keep this in mind when scheduling out your day.
- We blink less when looking at a computer screen by about half as often, according to my eye doctor. Our natural blinking pattern is interrupted. Remember to continually look away from the monitor as a way to refresh your eyes and brain.
- There is a different level of focus when in virtual events and meetings because you’re looking at one place the entire time. And typically that “place” is a monitor 24” or less. Contrast that to when you meet in-person where you might look away from the speaker at times or have multiple people in the room, speaking at different times. This gives your eyes the opportunity to wander, focus then relax.
- Plus, when in-person, we typically shift around in our seats or get up to stretch our legs or go to the bathroom. When it’s virtual, our tendency is to change these behaviors to not seem disruptive.
- Virtual environments don’t provide a natural transition time as if you’re getting together in person. While you might realize that as a seasoned online business owner, your friends and family may not.
- When there are 10 people or fewer in a virtual space, you can consider it a meeting or space for conversation to flow.
When there’s more than 10 people, it’s more of a presentation. If that’s the case, treat it like you would a webinar and be clear about it up front in that you’ll first teach or present and then there’ll be time time Q&A or discussion. Or consider pre-recording the presentation part for people to watch in advance and then hold the discussion portion in smaller groups after.
- Don’t be surprised by fewer questions from a meeting or event that is typically held in-person but is now virtual. When you’re sitting in the same room, one person raising their hand often gives the others permission to ask their question. We just need to see someone else go first. Plan for this change in behavior by asking people to send in some questions beforehand and answer those while live.
The bottom line is that virtual environments change our behaviors and it’s up to us to adapt.
Start by asking yourself:
What do I do in-person that I can still do virtually?
This may include getting up to stretch during a call, moving around, pausing to think something before responding (bonus – look away from your computer screen while you think), building in plenty of buffer times between appointments, and saying ‘no’ more.
What can I do differently under the constraint of virtual calls and meetings?
For you, this might be holding smaller-group meetings, not checking emails or multitasking during, waving ‘goodbye’ before leaving or hanging up, building in even more buffer time, and saying ‘no’ even more.
What behavior have you found yourself doing different as the number of virtual appointments, chats and events have landed on your calendar?
Photo by Jane Palash on Unsplash