Video Chat Fatigue

Video Chat Fatigue Is Real, But You Can Make Online Meetings More Tolerable

Have you noticed that you feel more drained than usual after video meetings? Every meeting has the potential to leave you feeling bored, but video chats seem to sap more of energy than normal.

You’re not alone. Plenty of people ask themselves, “why am I tired?” or “what do I have a headache after a Zoom call?” It turns out that there are scientific reasons that explain why video chats leave so many people feeling exhausted.

Why Does Video Chat Fatigue Happen?

Humans communicate best when they talk face to face. Nonverbal cues tell you a lot about what other people are thinking and feeling. During an in-person meeting, you may notice that attendees keep checking their phones. That likely means that you have lost their attention or that you need to end the session soon.

Other important nonverbal communication cues include:

  • Eye contact that expresses interest.
  • Frowns that express disapproval.
  • Crossing arms to show defensiveness.
  • Taking a deep breath to prepare the speaker for an interruption.

When you participate in Zoom calls, you usually see participants from their shoulders up. You never see the nonverbal communication that takes place below the shoulders. You also don’t get cues from eye contact. When you can’t see each other in person, you never have a chance to look into each other’s eyes for subtle communication.

Many people often feel that they need to emote more during video chats. If you’re aware that others can’t see your nonverbal communications, then you might put more energy into expressing yourself verbally.

Video chats make it possible for people to stay connected to each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, they require such a different set of communication skills that some people feel exhausted after meetings.

Reducing the Effects of Zoom Fatigue

Video chats will likely remain common until scientists develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Luckily, you can do a few things to reduce the unwanted effects of Zoom fatigue.

Set Rules for Your Meetings

There isn’t an established culture for how to behave during video chats. Decades of interacting with other people teach you how to talk in person. But you don’t know what to do when you want to speak during a video chat. Even saying goodbye can feel awkward as you try to figure out how to turn your camera off.

Encourage your organization to set rules for meetings. For example, you might hold up a piece of white paper if you have something to interject. Rules will reduce tension.

Don’t Multitask During Video Chats

You might think that you’re a multitasking master, but you’re not. Multitasking lowers productivity and steals your attention, which makes it harder to remember things later. If you multitask, you make the video chat even more stressful.

Build Breaks Into Video Chats

Long video chats will leave you feeling tired and unfocused. Build breaks into your meetings to give everyone a break. You shouldn’t spend more than half an hour on a video chat without taking a break.

Don’t Use Video Chats Unless Necessary

You have other communication options. When possible, use emails, phone calls, and texts.

Video chat fatigue isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, but you can learn ways to use remote tools without feeling completely zapped at the end of your meetings. If you feel like you need time to recover, consider taking a personal day or asking to opt-out of a few meetings.