Workers forced to endure an endless string of meetings on video conferencing platforms including Zoom Video Communications (ZM 3.20%) and Microsoft's (MSFT 2.76%) Teams have come away feeling tired and drained. The issue has been dubbed "Zoom fatigue," but until recently, why it happened was unclear. Recent research has unearthed the causes behind the phenomenon and what users can do to minimize the impact.
On this clip from Motley Fool Live, recorded on Feb. 24, "The Wrap" host Jason Hall and Fool.com contributor Danny Vena dig into the research and provide simple steps to help keep the issue at bay.
Jason Hall: Danny Vena, let's talk about "Zoom fatigue." I think I saw the same article that you may be referencing here.
Danny Vena: This is something that they've been talking about for going on a year now. Essentially, people that spend a lot of time on video conferencing tend to come away tired and fatigued. Now, they've done a study, and that study actually addresses some of the reasons why that happens and what you can do about it. The new study came out of Stanford...
Jason Hall: Are you about to lead us through some calisthenics and stretching here, maybe a little bit yoga or mind...
Danny Vena: No. Some mental calisthenics.
Jason Hall: Got it.
Danny Vena: Stanford University communications expert, Jeremy Bailenson dug into the phenomenon, came away with the reasons why, and made four suggestions for combating the so-called Zoom fatigue.
The first is that during person-person meetings, participants tend to break eye contact and shift their gaze looking at notes or looking at what's happening around them. When you're on a Zoom meeting or if you're on a Microsoft Teams video conference, you tend not to do that so much, there's a dramatic increase in eye contact.
If you exit the full-screen mode, which you can easily do, that's going to help you. The faces that you are staring at will be smaller and help minimize the impact.
Secondly, during Zoom meetings, participants tend to spend an inordinate amount of time looking at themselves and so people tend to be overly critical, they notice every little imperfection. You might remember that Align Technology (ALGN 3.54%), the company that supplies the Invisalign tooth straighteners, reported a dramatic uptake in people that are wanting to have their teeth straightened, which it dubbed the "Zoom Effect." To help combat that.
Jason Hall: See these, right here.
Danny Vena: [laughs] Those right there. Many video conferencing platforms will allow you to either hide your own image so that you don't see it or just minimize your image when you're not the featured speaker so you can stop looking at yourself.
Thirdly, when you're in in-person meetings, even if you're sitting for a long period of time, you will notice people tend to move around, they'll adjust their seat, get up and walk around, that's not always practical or easy to do in a Zoom meeting.
Resist the temptation to sit still all the time and sit in the one position and also position your camera further away. That way, it will give you the opportunity to move around a little bit while still remaining visible on your camera.
Finally, he suggests giving yourself an audio-only break. The reason for that is a video call is more taxing, producing a higher cognitive load on your brain than an in-person conversation. People tend to unconsciously attempt to interpret nonverbal cues that they see like when another person looks down, or people tend to make exaggerated gestures, like giving a thumbs-up or nodding.
If you're on a longer call, take a few minutes, not only turn off your camera but also turn away from the screen so you're not staring at the people on the screen constantly, and that'll give your brain the opportunity to break away from interpreting those movements and gestures of the other participants, which he says are probably meaningless anyway.