“Zoom fatigue” is a real thing – it comes from the additional cognitive load imposed by trying to parse interpersonal interactions in a space where you can’t see a person’s full body and other physical cues that you get during in-person meetings. (1)
Here are some simple but effective ways to minimize Zoom fatigue:
- Change your settings so that you can’t see yourself (because really, you don’t look like the Emperor from Star Wars and it’s stressful to feel like you do).
- Shut down other apps and browser tabs so that you’re not tempted to multitask
- Build breaks into your schedule so that you can get up and move around.
- Set up your camera so that it shows more than just your face, and ask others on the call to do the same. The more of your body is viewable, the more interpersonal signals others will be able to see.
- Switch to audio periodically, and allow your students to do so as well whenever they need to.
- Make yourself a “Loomie” – an animated “avatar” that looks like you and tracks your face and eye movements during meetings so that other people in the meeting or class feel like they’re interacting with a human being, but allows you to turn your camera off to take a break. Again, you can encourage your students to do the same.
If you’re worried that allowing students to participate by audio only will make them “check out” of class, you can always use active-learning techniques like polls or chat to keep them engaged.
(Allowing students to move to audio as needed also protects their privacy and dignity if they’re in a place they don’t feel comfortable sharing on screen.)
Likewise, moving to audio makes it possible for you and your students to get up and move around if they want to. This seems trivial, but it isn’t! Too little physical movement has been an unpleasant side effect of the pandemic for many and is leading to health problems.
As a plus, along with the health benefits of moving around, “walking meetings”, even if they’re just walking around everyone’s respective home offices, can be better for fostering connection than face-to-face seated meetings. (2)
(1) See https://news.northeastern.edu/2020/05/11/zoom-fatigue-is-real-heres-why-youre-feeling-it-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/, https://www.forbes.com/sites/yolarobert1/2020/04/30/heres-why-youre-feeling-zoom-fatigue/#2cbab1bf2ac6, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/04/coronavirus-zoom-fatigue-is-taxing-the-brain-here-is-why-that-happens/#closehttps://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200421-why-zoom-video-chats-are-so-exhausting