For almost two years, professionals have been sitting in front of their computer screens while attending countless virtual meetings. It has ultimately taxed our brains, energy levels and ability to focus. Some argue that Zoom fatigue is the result of limited in-person interactions or personal socialization. While I can’t argue with that perspective, I believe the reason runs deeper. I think the fatigue we experience is a result of ineffective meetings that are mundane, long-winded and disengaging. They drain our energy by the end of each day.
Think back to the office when you were working in person. How often did you walk out of a meeting and secretly rejoice that the pain was over? Better yet, how often have you attended a meeting and wondered if an email would have sufficed? Each of us has attended gatherings where the facilitator was ill-prepared, rambled on or struggled to make a point. These meetings failed to make an impact or influence our actions. When we don’t bring our best communication skills to the table — in person or on Zoom — it costs us our ability to influence our listeners.
Zoom fatigue, just like meeting fatigue, comes from our listeners’ inability to remain fully engaged with what we have to say. They wind up walking away confused, unclear on our message and exhausted. Eventually, it affects our reputation because attendees begin to dread our future meeting invites. Have you ever stopped and wondered how others feel when they receive a meeting invite from you?
Our ability to influence others comes from delivering clear and concise messages that actively engage our listeners. Our reputation and credibility increase as our consistency grows, whether in the boardroom or on a camera.
These five techniques can help you facilitate and lead interactive, impactful and influential meetings that encourage your listeners to act on what you have to say.
1. Take five minutes to prepare.
It’s easy to think we can facilitate a meeting on the fly, but that is a recipe for pointless rambling and long-winded messaging. Instead, before the meeting begins, grab a Post-it Note and jot down the main points you wish to discuss. Place it next to your camera, out of your listeners’ sight. This ensures you cover the important topics and will prevent you from trailing off down a rabbit hole.
2. Turn on your camera.
No one would ever attend a boardroom meeting while standing in the hallway, yet we think it’s acceptable to participate in a Zoom meeting with our cameras off. We need to see each other’s eyes to convey the actions we need our listeners to take. Next time you facilitate a call, ask everyone to turn on their cameras.
3. Take a step back.
Camera positioning is crucial as it allows your listeners the opportunity to see your body language and hand gestures. Unfortunately, too many people position their cameras in a way so that only their head is visible. You would never sit at a conference room table so low that only your head was visible, so don’t do it on camera. Instead, take a step back and position your camera to make your upper body visible to everyone. This way they can see your movement, which will help solidify your messaging.
4. Engage with names.
We tend to treat Zoom calls as a time to verbally vomit our message to listeners, failing to engage them along the way. We should arrive with a different mindset. These meetings are an opportunity to collaborate with others, keeping them engaged in what we have to say. As you speak, make sure you pause long enough to call on attendees and ask for their feedback, engagement or questions. When listeners know you are expecting them to participate, they are more likely to remain focused on the message you share.
5. Record the meeting.
Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms give you the ability to record the meeting and watch the playback. Immediately after the call, take time to watch yourself. Make note of what you could have done differently to emphasize your message better, clarify your points or engage your listeners. While you watch the playback, also take note of your listeners. Are they remaining engaged in your message or do you see them multitasking on camera? Are they watching you or do you see their eyes wandering? This is a great way to spot any points where you may have lost your listeners. Remember what to do differently next time.
Meeting fatigue is real, whether on Zoom or in a boardroom. Grow your ability to influence others with consistent message delivery that engages your listeners from start to finish. Your attendees will learn to trust that your meetings won’t induce fatigue and will be worthy of their time.
Source: Stacey Hanke, Forbes