Beat zoom fatigue by using your brain

I’m guilty.  I drift off after only a few minutes in Zoom meetings.  I pay more attention to the backgrounds than the people.  My attention is redirected by someone fidgeting or adjusting their camera.  If I don’t turn my own video image off I obsessively notice how my hair looks and try out positions to minimize my wrinkles.  judy


Why? It’s the Ringelmann Effect!
Ringelmann* proved there’s an inverse relationship between the size of the group and the size of each group members’ individual contribution. So if we feel we aren’t, or can’t, truly make a difference, why emotionally engage?

And if we don’t have “skin in the game” it’s easy to slide into checking our email, web surfing, or planning our weekend.

Here’s some suggestions to keep the oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin flowing in everyone’s brain. 

Get The Most From Your Zoom Meetings, even informal zoom get-togethers

If you are a participant
  1. Mute your microphone when you’re not speaking. 

  2. Stop your webcam video when you don’t need it.

  3. Use the best Internet connection you can.

If you are the organizer or facilitator

Zoom is a substitute for physical inter-personal connection. There are some ways to help everyone connect in cyber space:

1.  Even if it seems obvious, begin by stating what the meeting will focus on and the time allotted,    

Example:  “I’m glad to see everyone here to discuss/review/shoot the breeze . . . _________.  Hopefully, everyone has set aside the next hour but if you need to leave Zoom earlier, let us know.

When the basics are said out loud it a shared sense of purpose and control is heightened. Besides, the brain likes specific deadlines with dates or time. 

2.  Acknowledge/remind the Zoom time lag that occurs, the noticeable delays between video and audio – the time between you speaking and the other user receiving the audio on their end.  This helps minimize people talking over one another.

Possibilities:  

  • Ask people to wave their hand to speak or
  • Ask people take one deep breath before speaking.  It will both relax, help focus and minimize talking over one another

2.  Start (And End) With An acknowledgment or emotion Check-in. The most important thing missing from cyber-meetings is emotional connection.  “Touch” through a computer screen has to be purposely facilitated as it doesn’t come naturally.

Possibilities:  

  • At the very least (if there aren’t 500 people attending) acknowledge everyone by name
  • Have everyone say how they’re feeling by using a simple emotion wheel.  People can share in just a few sentences.

  • At the end of the meeting you can gently inquire if what they were feeling at the beginning is the same or different to help people refocus on themselves.

3.   Ask others to take a role during the meeting.  This helps people feel engaged –  gives them “skin in the game” which counteracts the Ringelmann Effect. It literally helps keep the oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin flowing.  At the least, encourage everyone to say something at the onset.

Possibilities:  

  • Pose a question and have each person comment.  (It can be a serious question or a silly one.)   Ask if anyone has questions – Frequent Questions Increase Blood Flow To The Decision-Making Center Of The Brain.
  • Send out an article, video, quote, picture before the meeting and invite comments at the meeting.  Questions or topics to ponder keeps the prefrontal cortex in visionary/problem-solving mode.  

Possible Roles:

  • Summary maker – creates a summary and sends it out to participants or posts on social media 
  • Moderator – calls on people to talk
  • Timer – Calls out stretch breaks and meeting end

A 5 or 10 minute break every 20 minutes works wonders for engagement. Everyone can stretch in place or get up and move.  

4 – Periodically summarize information/topics to help those who have spaced out and others to focus,  Normal distractions or interruptions, like people or pets wandering in the room, will happen so it’s good to periodically recap what was just covered with a quick summary to bring everyone back. 

These suggestions will help keep the brain in gear but don’t guarantee zooming out during Zoom.

Check out DO YOU HAVE ZOOM FATIGUE for more information

What has or hasn’t worked for you?  Please SHARE.

 

 


*This effect, discovered by French agricultural engineer Maximilien Ringelmann (1861–1931).