“…at the end of every Zoom call, I do a deep sigh and say “well that’s one Zoom meeting out the way” to myself.”
So, here’s the latest on Zoom meetings… Science is proving that they are more exhausting than face-to-face meetings. Now when I first heard this, I struggled to agree. I find taking Zoom meetings in the comfort of my own home, in my pajamas, without having to beat traffic or make sure there are fresh biscuits in the boardroom much more chill.
But then I read some of the science behind the theory, and realised (and admitted to myself) that at the end of every Zoom call, I do a deep sigh and say “well that’s one Zoom meeting out the way” to myself.
This is not to say I don’t love every Zoom call I am on – I am so, so lucky to get to choose only work I love at the moment and therefore every call and every meeting is one I cannot wait to take. But I do get off these calls feeling a little more like I need a nap than I do when leaving a face-to-face meeting. Now as a quintessential introvert, this did shock me to realise.
WHAT ARE THE SCIENTISTS SAYING?
Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, says there’s nothing natural about a face hovering on a screen speaking to you as if you were right there in the room. Your brain isn’t accustomed to so much direct eye contact — and faces are far closer than they ought to be, not to mention weirdly enlarged . You can’t blame your brain for panicking a little.
Also, we have to work twice as hard to assure the people on the call that we’re paying attention. Using facial expressions of interest or enthusiasm all the time can be draining AF!
And then there is the anxiety that comes with unstable internet or temperamental technology. We’ve all be there – the screen freezes, the speaker’s voice crackles, and you have to have to ask the host to please repeat the last sentence in front of 25 people because you “think your connection dropped”.
What about deafening silence? Holy moly, this is a humdinger. A 2014 study by German academics showed that delays of more than 1.2 seconds in a video conferencing setting made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused.
WANT SOME TIPS?
‘Cause you know we got ’em!!
We put very specific systems in place when we moved from in-office meetings to daily Zoom calls.
- Start every meeting by giving everyone a chance to tell you how they’re feeling that day. We have found this not only creates an environment in which everyone feels heard and considered, but it has also brought a more personal feel to what can otherwise feel quite sterile (you know, without hugging :-))
- Take turns leading the meeting. This way, there is not always one person responsible for the agenda. It has also meant that everyone feels like their being given a seat at the table, that everyone is equal and valued.
- Let the conversation take it’s natural course. Personally, I have noticed that as a team we do tend to go off on a tangent more than we used to in the boardroom. And that’s ok… By allowing this we have created a very laidback environment in which everyone feels safe to just be themselves (now we meet daily from our beds in our pajamas!)