How to Combat Virtual Meeting Fatigue

With months of meeting only virtually, are you beginning to experience “virtual meeting fatigue”? It’s actually a real thing, according to recent studies.

Virtual meetings have become an ever-present part of the working world for several years, but there is no question that the events of 2020 greatly accelerated the shift in how and where we collaborate. With companies transitioning to working remotely, meeting virtually is no longer just an option – it’s often a necessity.

While there are certainly many great benefits of virtual meetings, there are also drawbacks. One of the most significant side effects (and perhaps the most unexpected) has become known as virtual meeting fatigue.

What Is Virtual Meeting Fatigue?

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), remote employees are experiencing a unique phenomenon often referred to as “Zoom fatigue.” Named after the popular virtual meeting platform, Zoom, this purported byproduct of videoconferencing is why so many of us feel completely exhausted after a workday filled with virtual meetings.

It might seem easy to assume that working from home would be less tiring than working in-office; however, researchers are finding that isn’t necessarily true.

And with more than 36 million Americans expected to be working from home by 2025 (Upwork), figuring out how to manage virtual meeting fatigue needs to be a top priority for employers everywhere.

Common Causes of Virtual Meeting Fatigue

So, exactly what causes virtual meeting fatigue? As it turns out, there are several factors that are contributing to this new workplace challenge. And as employers build a better understanding of where virtual meetings are going wrong, they can more effectively strategize how to implement virtual collaboration the right way.

More Concentration Required

Recent Microsoft research suggests that “brainwave patterns associated with stress and overwork were much higher when collaborating remotely than in-person.” Basically, more concentration is required for a virtual conversation.

Being on a video chat requires more focus because a person has to work harder to process non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, body language and voice tone, according to a recent BBC interview with Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor at Insead.

The virtual setting can be intense.

In a typical, in-person meeting, attendees generally vary between looking at the speaker, their notes, or elsewhere. But when you’re on a Zoom call, the entire audience is “onstage.” It’s a lot of eye contact, and a lot of pressure to properly “look” like you’re listening and absorbing the information being presented. As humans, the size of faces on a computer monitor and the extensive periods of eye contact sustained in virtual meetings are recognized by our brains as unnatural and can trigger stress reactions.

Constantly having to see our own faces as we listen or speak can cause a stress-inducing hyperawareness of how we are perceived by our colleagues. Imagine being followed around by someone that held a mirror up to you all day long… nobody would be surprised to hear that you felt stressed out. (Interestingly, there was also a plastic surgery boom that coincided with the pandemic – could it be linked to all those hours of staring at ourselves on-screen?)

Additionally, because the typical “go-to” virtual platforms are available to the masses, virtual meetings have become stale and monotonous – seen one, seen them all. They lack engaging features that combat against the barrage of stagnant virtual experiences which inevitably lead to virtual meeting fatigue. 

How to Reduce Virtual Meeting Fatigue

Realizing the distinct challenges of a virtual setting is the first step to tackling the issue. From there, you can implement practical strategies for improving the virtual meeting experience as a whole.

Here are a few of our best tips for a better approach to virtual work events:

Virtual meeting fatigue doesn’t have to be a hurdle. Miller Tanner Associates (MTA) has a comprehensive solution for both improving your participants’ focus and enhancing your meeting platform. MTA thinks outside the box of the typical virtual platforms to instead offer our clients an elevated virtual event experience using one or a combination of MTA’s many dynamic, engagement-driven virtual platform options to produce an event that keeps your audience focused and engaged. 

Platform Diving

No matter if you’re planning a basic webinar or a complex extended engagement portal, it’s not just about plugging into a virtual platform with all the best bells and whistles. It’s substantially more nuanced.

A successful virtual event requires a team of experts who have in-depth knowledge of various platforms and technology who can then curate and support an event production customized to meet your event’s specific goals.

Once we know the event’s goals, we can determine the types of features needed to customize for your specific audience, such as:

Need to showcase a sponsor? We can design key elements that enhance interaction between your sponsor/s and your audience.

Want to provide networking opportunities? Our team can build in features such as a “virtual handshake” that automatically connects audience members together based on commonalities.

Have multiple speakers in various locations that need to present? We can pre-record presentations and stream into one seamless production.

Want to elevate your branding within the platform? Our team can custom design a branded platform and speakers’ backgrounds that align with your brand, add continuity, and reinforce professional quality.

Interested in engaging your audience in a unique and different way? No problem. Our creative team has a host of unique gaming and entertainment options as well as interactive features designed to activate engagement from your audience.

Have a lot of content to cover but need to keep your live virtual event short? You can deliver content in advance of your event using our learning management system, VALTs (Virtual Assessment Learning and Training Source.

These are just a few of the many options available to create an elevated virtual solution that’s tailor-designed for your audience and aligned with your event goals.

Step Into the Future of Collaboration with Virtual Meetings from MTA

Shift your boring virtual meetings to a more dynamic, engaging virtual experiences with MTA. Contact us today for a demo of our elevated event options.