How many of us had heard of Zoom this time last year?
Fast forward 12 months and it is a crucial part of our lives. Not just at work, but also for keeping in touch with friends and family.
The video call company went from having around 10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019 to 300 million just four months later.
And this video conferencing boom is not restricted to Zoom. Google Meet peaked at 235 million participants last year. And Microsoft Teams, which uses a different metric, had 115 million daily users on its platform in October.
But with Zoom and these other channels now being so integral to our lives, how can you and your teams cope with the dreaded Zoom fatigue?
Well, we have been delivering most of our communication training courses remotely through video conferencing software for the past year – as well as using it for our internal team meetings – and we have put together some advice from our experience.
Other forms of video
Video doesn’t need to be restricted to video conferencing.
Instead of calling a meeting, you could send your teams a video clip or provide a video update on your intranet.
This is a great way of showing visible leadership and enabling your people to feel connected, providing some reassurance at a time when so much seems so uncertain.
But it also allows people to quickly absorb information and updates at a time that is convenient for them.
This is particularly beneficial in the current landscape where virtually all of the workforce may be working remotely and trying to balance regular online meetings with ensuring they get their work done and dealing with home commitments, including home-schooling.
We’ve done this with some of our training courses and now offer a blended option where much of the theory is learnt from online courses, containing video lessons from our tutors, and they then put that to the test in practical sessions held on Zoom or Teams.
The great thing about video is you only need your smartphone to record and edit them.
If you are unsure of the best way to do this, we can show you how on our new online course. Led by Anna Brees, who you will probably recognise from the telly, the training guides you through everything to know about making high-quality video on your phone. It takes around 90 minutes to complete the training and costs just £199 + vat.
Do you need to Zoom?
Sure, we can’t meet face-to-face at the moment, but that doesn’t leave video conferencing as the only communication method we can use.
We can still phone, message and send email.
So, before you send around another Zoom meeting invite, consider whether that is the best format or whether some of the more traditional options could work just as well.
The introduction of Teams and Zoom into working practice has been amazing but there are times where a short phone call is better than scheduling a video meeting for 10 days time. I’m hoping to remember this in 2021 to reduce screen fatigue where possible! pic.twitter.com/Rc18BMpniJ— Aled Davies (@AledJDavies) January 8, 2021
While the office may seem like a distant memory for many of us, one of the things we miss about the workplace the most is the informal chats.
So, it is important to build in regular breaks into video conferencing meetings where our teams can just talk.
And plan fun meetings as well. For example, we had a cocktail making masterclass on Zoom and we know of other teams who have had cookery lessons.
You could also consider team bonding tools like Donut and RandomCoffee. These were around before we were all sent to our bedrooms to work, but are expected to take off as we approach the first anniversary of restrictions and are a good way of getting people to talk and not discuss work.
One of the more disconcerting parts of video conferencing meetings is that we can see ourselves as we talk.
And it can be quite distracting and off-putting – almost like talking in front of a mirror. It can make us all feel more self-conscious, which, in turn, can be draining.
But you don’t have to put yourself through this.
Simply click the ‘hide myself’ feature on Zoom and you will be hidden from your view but the other people in the meeting will still be able to see you.
If you were meeting face-to-face, you probably wouldn’t get up and move around.
But online is a bit different and it is not particularly healthy to be sat still endlessly staring at a screen.
So, why not encourage your people to turn off their cameras when they want to and move around or even grab something to eat.
They can still follow what is going on, but will feel more at ease and may have better concentration levels.
Don’t treat your remote meetings as a direct replacement for face-to-face ones.
Look to make them interactive, through polls, quizzes and competitions – always a good way of injecting some energy into proceedings.
And share slides and your screen to demonstrate and explain key points, particularly if you are demonstrating new software or a new service.
You could also consider letting other people host the meeting and share their screen.
Try to limit your video conferencing meetings to an hour.
If you can make them even tighter, and limit them to around 45 minutes, that would allow your teams to step away from their screens for a bit before they go into their next meeting – remember how before covid we often had to walk from one side of the office to the other for our next meeting, or walk to the kitchen to grab a quick drink?
One of the best ways to make this happen is to ensure meetings start on time and have an agenda. Make it clear what you are trying to accomplish.
Using videos from your smartphone can also help here. You can record your updates, thoughts and ideas ahead of the meeting and circulate that video with the agenda. Then the meeting can be used to discuss what you set out in that video.
If it is possible, consider whether you and your teams would benefit from establishing ‘meeting-free’ days.
If that sounds unrealistic in your organisation, maybe you could go for a half-day block-out or a lunchtime meeting ban. Alex Mahon, the chief executive of Channel 4, has just brought in 'meeting-free' lunchtimes and Fridays.
Channel 4’s Chief Exec is a tremendous leader. pic.twitter.com/H93vFQXimf— Owen Williams 🏴 (@OwsWills) January 13, 2021
Or, if you really want to push back on a meeting culture, have just one day a week where people can book meetings.
Keen to use more video to help tackle Zoom fatigue? Our online smarthphone course will guide you through everything you need to know about making good-quality video.
Media First are media and communications training specialists with over 35 years of experience. We have a team of trainers, each with decades of experience working as journalists, presenters, communications coaches and media trainers.
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