We are now 6 months into the new way of working.  Work From Home, no meetings, social distancing etc.  The days of in person committee meetings or coffee shop meetings at least for the time being are over.

We have all gotten used to the new normal of Zoom meetings or Teams meetings etc.  Whatever the solution, or more likely solutions, you use the outcome is the same.  You are spending many more hours in-front of the computer screen sitting in the same position as you do normally with less time to get up and go to meetings or at least walk about.

In fact the result from the continuous use of online meeting solutions is what is commonly being referred to now as Zoom Fatigue.  It is quite simple to understand why this is happening.  In an in person meeting of multiple people you have people next to you, further away from you, at the ends of the table and opposite you.  In general in a normal meeting you are only looking at one person at a time with the people either side of the one you are looking at in your periphery.  You eyes have a limited focus on things that are moving which would normally be the person talking therefore your brain is only processing a fixed amount of data.  This allows your brain to focus on processing what the person is actually saying so that you can absorb and understand the conversation.

In a Zoom or Teams meeting often the meeting is in gallery view or a view where you can either see the videos of all or a subset of all the participants.  What this means is that not only are you looking at the main person speaking but you are also seeing the movements of everyone else on the screen.  People often now have active backgrounds which are moving or have things happening behind them.  This results is your eyes passing much more information to your brain which is then having to process a lot more visual data than it normally does in a normal meeting environment.  The result of this is two fold.

  1. You get more tired quicker than normal.
  2. You focus less on what is being said because there is too much visual stimulation.

Both of these are bad for your focus in a meeting and mean that you will not have got as much out of the meeting as you would normally.

In order to resolve this I would recommend the following in a meeting on Zoom or Teams.

  1. Active Speaker view is enabled for the meeting where the video of the person speaking is the only one you see.
  2. Request non participating people to switch off their video.
  3. Request all people to mute unless they are speaking.
  4. Ask everyone to enable a dull or non visually stimulating background.

Doing the 4 steps above you will get as close to a normal meeting as you can in terms of visual stimulation, meaning you will be less tired and able to absorb more of the meeting content.

I would also recommend if you are doing a lot of video meetings that you spend more time getting up and walking around than normal to compensate for the fact that you are sitting in your chair more than you normally do.

Hopefully with the above advise you can enhance your virtual meeting productivity.

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