How to Overcome Zoom Fatigue
What is Zoom Fatigue
This trending term describes what many newly online workers, instructors, and students are feeling, having to attend multiple Zoom videoconferencing sessions every day. There are two main ideas as to what is causing this “Zoom fatigue.” One theory is that it actually has little to do with Zoom and videoconferencing and has more to do with the situation we find ourselves because of lock-down due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We are feeling more anxious because we are forced to isolate and being in Zoom videoconferences reminds us of this involuntary reality (Jiang, 2020). The other theory is that we as social creatures rely not only on spoken words but on various nuances of body language that are much harder to fully experience and realize online. Because of that we become hyper-vigilant and strain that much more to try and perceive all that is being communicated (Sklar, 2020).
7 Ways to Over Come Zoom Fatigue
Be in “Active Speaker” speaker mode, not “Gallery View” when you are in a Zoom web-conferencing session/meeting/class. This will allow you to focus on one person instead of trying to look at everybody. If you are the instructor and the one speaking, then you should be mainly looking at the camera (for eye contact/better instructional presence), and only minimally at the screen (Anders, 2017). Some might say “well I need to see their reactions.” Instead, tell students to use Zoom’s built-in hand-raise feature or reactions feature if they have questions or want to add a comment. They can also use the chat feature if needed.
Do not multi-task. If you are the viewer you need to focus on the presentation and closeout other windows and programs. Take notes and ask questions. Degges-White of Psychology Today recommends that you take paper and pen notes (instead of typing them out) as a way to help reduce Zoom fatigue as well (2020). Constantly multi-tasking will further wear you out. If you are the presenter then have windows, programs, etc. ready to go so you don’t have to search for them during your presentation.
Have a second monitor. Having a second monitor allows you to more easily follow along and help you be that much better prepared for giving your Zoom meeting/session/class. Everything can be easily seen and accessed when it is spread across two screens.
Use your laptop or desktop computer instead of your cell phone If possible, for your Zoom session. This will help with eye strain (which can make you tired) and with body tension. After my daughter complained of shoulder and neck pain after a day of Zoom class sessions I watched her the next day and saw that as she was following along with the Zoom session on her phone; she was hunched over and extending her neck. This is bad form and will cause aches and pains. Our other laptops were being used (wife, another daughter, and myself for work). But I did set her up with a cellphone holder so she could sit up with better form. She did not have any more aches after that.
Not everything needs to be done via live video. Zoom is a powerful videoconferencing tool and video capturing tool. You can create very powerful videos with screen sharing and annotations and then upload them to a learning management system or video host like YouTube and then provide your viewers with a link (videos can be privately listed as well). This then helps avoid “Zoom fatigue” by letting the viewer decide when to view the content. Synchronous (live) video is great when interaction is needed, but if you are only giving out information then everyone else does not need to be online live and then they can view it later (asynchronously).
Take a real break away from your screen. In between Zoom sessions, many people take a break by checking Facebook, email, Instagram, News, Twitter, etc. This isn’t really taking a break and doesn’t give your eyes a chance to relax. Instead, you need to get up, take a walk outside (improves blood circulation), and get some fresh air if at all possible. This will help with eye strain and recharge your mind and body.
Properly frame yourself in the video and use good lighting and audio. This will help you look your best and will help others feel less anxious because they won’t be struggling to see or hear you. Many people on Zoom get anxious because they can’t properly see or effectively hear others in the video session. If you are the Zoom session host you should encourage everyone to follow these simple steps so that everyone can be easily seen, heard, and understood.
- Framing: Set the camera so that it is at eye level with you. Fill the frame so that it is from your chest to just a little over your head. Many people incorrectly fill the entire frame/screen with nothing but their face. This can make a view anxious because the person would essentially be “in your face.” By framing from your chest to the top of your head you also allow for your hands to be in the frame in case they are needed to help explain something within the presentation.
- Have Good Audio: if possible, use an external mic or at least a nice headset. Turn off distracting noise and if needed close a window, put the dog away, ensure kids are in another room, etc. Mute yourself or others when it is not their time to talk.
- Lighting: Make sure the lights are on and that your face is well-lit (like from a window or a lamp in front of you. By being well-lit people will be better able to read your body language and understand what you are saying that much better.
Anders, B. (2017). How to enhance instructional presence: Research & experience based techniques to improve both online & face-to-face instruction. Manhattan, KS: Sovorel Publishing.
Degges-White, S. (2020, April 4). Zoom fatigue: don’t let video meetings zap your energy. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/lifetime-connections/202004/zoom-fatigue-dont-let-video-meetings-zap-your-energy
Jiang, M. (2020, April 22). The reason Zoom calls drain your energy. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200421-why-zoom-video-chats-are-so-exhausting
Sklar, J. (2020, April 24). ‘Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain. Here’s why that happens. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/04/coronavirus-zoom-fatigue-is-taxing-the-brain-here-is-why-that-happens