Are you suffering from Zoom fatigue? Collaborate Ultra making you ultra exhausted? You’re not alone. Web conferencing can be stressful in ways that in-person learning often isn’t and many have reported feeling exhausted and stressed out by all the online sessions.
While this term is almost over and it’s not yet clear what role web conferencing will play in our daily lives after this, it’s never too late to learn some ways that you can help reduce the stress of these sessions and maybe even make them enjoyable– a must for surviving the last weeks of the term.
Why Does Web Conferencing Wear Us Out?
What is it about web conferencing that’s so exhausting? Researchers say it’s because web conferences require more focused attention to be able to remember and retain information than you would need in a normal in person meeting.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that it’s much easier to lose focus while on a Zoom or Collaborate session. You are surrounded by distractions at home and can easily be tempted to check emails, look at your phone, do work, or browse the web all while trying to pay attention to the speaker.
Adding into the mix is how we show we’re alert and paying attention. In person, there are many ways we can communicate this to the speaker. However, in web meetings, you have to stare without break at the screen or camera. Maintaining this constant gaze is exhausting and not something that you’d likely ever do in real life. Not to mention the fact that many are simultaneously looking at their own image on the screen and overanalyzing their hair, wrinkles, or lighting (it’s true, we all do it!).
All of these things add up to an experience that can be incredibly draining when repeating several times over a day, day after day. So how can we make it less stressful?
Ways to Reduce Web Conferencing Stress
Don’t try to multitask. Maybe easier said than done, but focus on one task at a time when you’re in a web conference. Emails can wait. Texts can wait. Focus on what’s going on in the meeting or course session. Research has shown that multitasking actually doesn’t help you get more done, it actually makes you less efficient. Advise students to keep their focus in one place as much as possible, too, and make that possible by keeping sessions short.
Take a break. Breaks are critical to avoiding web conferencing burnout. If you feel like you need a break, turn off your camera and step away for a few minutes. If you can’t do that, look away for a few minutes or out of a window to reset yourself. In your own courses, allow students to do this as well, and make sure they know it’s ok as long as they aren’t missing the whole session. Even more critically, get away from the screen between courses and meetings! Take a walk, go upstairs, get some water. Whatever you do, give your body a break from being in front of your device.
Reduce on screen distractions. It can be hard to give a web meeting your full attention when your computer or other device is constantly abuzz with other things competing for your time. One key thing you can do is to remove your own screen from view so you won’t be worrying how you appear on camera. It’s also beneficial to turn off email notifications and anything else that might pop up in front of your meeting.
Switch formats. Are there any virtual meetups you’re having that could just as easily be a phone call or email? See what you can replace with lower-tech options to give you a break from your web conferencing tools. While Zoom or Collaborate might seem like the default these days, there’s no rule that you have to send everyone a video chat meeting invite rather than utilize another form of communication.
Watch the tone. Speaking slowly, smiling, and creating a congenial atmosphere can go a long way towards building a better web conference. Whether you’re hosting your own sessions or attending another, keep things friendly and work at discussing things in an even, positive tone.
Be patient. Not everyone is a web conferencing pro and even with the wider usage of these tools some people just aren’t as tech savvy or may not be familiar with your tool of choice. Be patient and wait for people to figure out how to turn off mute or bring up their presentation.
Make it personal. While you don’t want to spend forever telling personal stories in a professional meeting or online class, adding in some small talk can go a long way towards reducing the stress of the online format. It gives people a break to talk or laugh, sets a relaxed tone, and builds rapport.
Call on people. Instead of waiting for students to respond, try just calling on some. Students are often reluctant to speak up in courses in the online format as it’s easier to just blend into the background, but asking for their input gets them participating and takes some of the pressure off of you to drive the course forward. This can also work in meetings where speakers are sharing the floor.
Keep it short. The shorter the web conference, the less stressful. Try to keep things as efficient and succinct as possible. This goes for both meetings and courses–no one wants to be in a meeting where the speaker just won’t get to the point, and students don’t want to be stuck in a class that’s still going on after class time is over.
Want to learn more? Here’s where we got our info–visit to read more about reducing web conferencing stress.