Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

Are online meetings draining you?

Like many people, I’ve been attending or carrying all my sessions through online platforms such as Zoom and Webex.
I have really enjoyed the challenge and excitement of adapting to these online portals. Yes, they can be draining physically, especially when I am carrying out PE sessions and Morning Boot Camps, but they can also be mentally challenging.
If this is something you can relate to then the question I asked myself was: What is it about these online meetings which is tiring me out and what can we do to help this problem?
While looking this up I came across an article on the BBC that interviewed two professors who specialise in learning, development and wellbeing in the workplace.
They stated that video calls require more focus than a face-to-face chat. You have to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language. Paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy.
Then they went on to talk about what silence does to our mind when on a video call.
The professors said, “Silence creates a natural rhythm in a real-life conversation. However, when it happens in a video call, you became anxious about the technology.”
What they really mean is that it just makes us uncomfortable and we scurry around the keypad or in our mind trying to come up with a solution, which takes more time and energy.
Then you have the added pressure of big brother is watching you. Worrying about what your resting face looks like and consistently looking at yourself on screen just to make sure you at least look interested, can be exhausting.
I personally find this hard. Even though I’m fully engaged in the conversation, my reflection on screen doesn’t always look that way.
It’s not just all the pressures which we find onscreen that is mentally draining.
It’s the fact of knowing you have ‘another conference call’ or ‘this is going to be one of those two hour long ones’. Even before you start the call you are adding extra physical and mental strain to your body. Add to this that it’s hard for some people to get the time to carry out these calls without being interrupted by the children or family pet.
Another added stress, or something which may bring about negative emotions, is merging all your life into one location. Most of us are used to working, living, socialising and talking to family in different places. At the minute everything is mainly done from your home. It’s hard to know when and how to switch from professional to personal life.
This can also have a negative effect when you want to use Zoom for fun. If you use this or any other platform for work and you know that the family quiz is on tonight, another Zoom call may be the last thing you want to do, as it’s still a tool that you associate for work.
So how can you reduce this type of fatigue?
Both experts in the article suggested limiting video calls to those which are necessary. If it’s a work call, then you may have to attend, but if it’s another lads or ladies night in and you aren’t feeling up to it, don’t join in.
Another tip is to ask before you start a meeting to turn off your camera and if you are hosting you can tell others that they can do the same. This isn’t a free invite to jump off your work meeting. Instead it reduces all the stresses we mentioned before about seeing yourself on screen but it may also help you to concentrate and take better notes.
Can it be done through email? Spending a bit more time on an email and highlighting everything which needs covered may be a better and more time effective way to communicate. Even if you really do need to video call, then cover as much as you can over email first before you hop on screen.
Take the time during the call to ask people how they are or give them a ring after the meeting just to check in on their wellbeing.
Finally get up and move after your video call. This will help you both physically and mentally. When you get up, head outside for a short walk to move those stiff muscle groups and more importantly to clear the head.

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