If you’re wondering why online meetings are so tiring, you’re not alone. A recent study by Jeremy Bailenson suggests that a few common causes of online meeting fatigue may be due to the way we behave during meetings. The author cites three specific causes that may be contributing to the feeling of exhaustion: excessive eye gaze, the way we view the speaker and sticking to the end time of the meeting.
Jeremy Bailenson’s research suggests why online meetings are so tiring
Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, has spent two decades studying the mental and physical effects of online meetings. His research suggests that fatigue from videoconferencing may be related to nonverbal cue overload. In a new peer-reviewed paper, he outlines four main causes of online meeting fatigue and offers possible solutions.
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One of the most common causes is excessive close eye contact. This can be exacerbated by videoconferencing software, such as Zoom. While Zoom users may be using their computers to hold the video conference, they are also using their computers for other tasks. This means that they are spending a lot of time looking at screens. This can lead to zoom fatigue.
To reduce video conferencing fatigue, participants should try switching from full-screen mode to a window size that is smaller than their monitor. Doing so will reduce the intensity of the meeting, and will also create personal space. This will mean that employees will not be looking at other employees all the time.
Effects of excessive eye gaze
During online meetings, people can become drained from too much eye contact. Excessive gaze during video meetings can be caused by three factors: cognitive overload from nonverbal communication, reduced mobility, and fatigue. It may also lead to discomfort. Researchers at Stanford University say excessive eye gaze during meetings causes physiological arousal and fatigue.
In the present study, participants were asked to watch pictures of varying sizes. The size of the pictures had an impact on gaze direction, as did the position of the pictures. The participants rated whether the images looked at them and whether they felt looked at. The results suggest that the presence of a small picture in the background may improve the quality of the meeting.
When participants are looking at each other while speaking, their eyes react by stimulating the nerve endings in the eye. The eye gaze becomes more pronounced during large group sessions and video calls, while a woman’s gaze is more likely to go straight to herself. This phenomenon is common in Zoom conferences, which make participants into speakers. This creates a cognitive overload, as people can’t pick up body language as well.
Effects of speaker view
The Effects of Speaker View on Online Meetings Are Not a New Concept. Researchers at Insead and BBC Worklife outlined the effects of video chat on workplace wellbeing and teamwork effectiveness. Among other things, the speakers’ video chats force everyone to focus on the speaker, instead of on other participants. This can lead to more stress for everyone, especially for the speaker.
Increasing the amount of space between you and the speaker will improve your focus and alertness. Likewise, reducing the on-screen stimuli will also help your productivity. One way to reduce the amount of visual stimulation is to switch to Active Speaker view, which reduces the amount of information your brain has to process. You can also standardize your meeting backgrounds to reduce the number of things on-screen at any one time.
Another method for reducing the cognitive load is to turn off the camera or minimize your screen. Zoom users can do this by right-clicking the video display and selecting “Hide Myself,” which hides your view so that other participants can see you. Taking advantage of these features will reduce the fatigue factor and make you more focused during your meeting.
Effects of sticking to a meeting end time
Sticking to the end time of a meeting is a great way to avoid a meeting that drags on for hours. Not only will you avoid interruptions but you’ll also avoid a conflict over who is responsible for what. When you’re attending online meetings, it’s important to stick to a meeting time. If you’re meeting with colleagues, it’s best to start early to make sure everyone is on time.
Be sure to prepare before the meeting by reading the agenda, leaving comments on it, or sending out notes. Jumping into discussion time without preparing yourself in advance is the worst idea – it’s easy to get distracted, or forget to log in. Logging in at least five minutes early is also best practice. You should send a message to the organizer if you are running late.
Meetings that start late usually end late. This is not only disruptive to the workflow but also damages the mood of the meeting. When meeting members arrive late, the host is forced to spend time bringing them up to speed. This further distracts the entire team. Even worse, this practice can damage the company’s culture. By consistently being late, you’re sending a message that you don’t value the time of others. Ultimately, this will lead to negative feelings and a negative attitude towards meetings in general.