How to Avoid Zoom Fatigue by Hosting Meetings That Matter

Zoom fatigue exploded during the pandemic because, while employees were remote, Zoom allowed meetings to be more frequent than before. Productivity naturally went up, but so did exhaustion brought on by so much immediate responsibility. No matter how this bump looks on paper, zoom fatigue will destroy your business’s productivity if it goes unacknowledged. Here are a few ways to strike a balance between your employees’ independent focus time and meetings that matter.

1. Come With an Agenda

If you go into a meeting with only an idea of its purpose, it’ll take a while to get there. Before the meeting begins, create and share an agenda of topics that need to be discussed. You can, firstly, help people prepare their thoughts going into it, and secondly, use it like a checklist. As each thing is dealt with, cross it out, and you can move on to the next without much delay.

Think of your meeting like a broadway play: it’s designed like a list of scenes to fit within a timeframe. If fully improvised — like a meeting entered without a meeting agenda — then there is little sense of quality control. The audience, your employees, will likely lose interest.

2. Limit Meeting Lengths

There are only so many work hours in the day for everybody to get their responsibilities done. Nothing is worse than having a goal to meet but being required to sit through an unnecessary meeting. The shorter you keep meetings, the faster tasks need to get done, which can be stressful or seem unrealistic. But in fact, the limited time can actually encourage more productivity by forcing focus on the topic at hand.

Try to set meeting durations according to the number of points that need to be discussed. For example, say that there’s one small issue to address — make the meeting no longer than 15 minutes. Two topics may not realistically need to exceed 25 minutes.

3. Set a Daily Meeting Cap

Take caution that you don’t hold more meetings to make up for the lost time. This time isn’t actually lost, it’s just allocated more efficiently. Therefore you should also try to limit the number of meetings in a day, so you aren’t erasing that progress. It’s another way to add some necessary pressure to each get-together to make sure everything is finalized.

Another upside to limiting the number of meetings is that conversations that don’t need to be meetings end up as messages or emails instead. With less frequent interruptions, your employees can focus on working and spend meeting time ensuring that the agenda is fulfilled.

4. Assign Meeting-Free Days

Sometimes even the presence of a meeting on one’s schedule is enough to cause stress. This can be especially debilitating if the meeting will be influential on your day-to-day functioning. You may have heard the term waiting mode in reference to such a situation. For example, if you have trouble being productive because you’re preoccupied with an upcoming doctor’s appointment, you’re in waiting mode.

Meeting-free days are a great way to eliminate this preoccupation at times when productivity needs to be at 100%. Like the daily cap, it also helps mitigate things if you fall into the habit of holding too many meetings.

5. Record Presentations Ahead of Time

The purpose of a meeting at its core is to assemble the team and work together to move forward. Interestingly, a lot of communication that doesn’t require working together, like presentations, tend to have the same expectations. However, the one-sided nature of a presentation means that only one party truly needs to be present. Have the presenter record their presentation on their own, and other employees can then watch it at their convenience.

The result will be a smoother, lower-pressure presentation and the ability for viewers to move through at their own pace. Use a video platform that allows changing the speed and employees can watch it faster or slower if need be.

6. Use Software to Optimize Employees’ Schedules

You’d be surprised how many digital platforms exist to solve all types of problems at work. Even most calendar programs allow for a certain type of customization for the sake of focus. Maybe your employees need certain amounts of focus time and a newly scheduled meeting gets in the way. You can find a program, for instance, that takes their needs into account and helps reschedule troublesome meetings accordingly.

Whatever their needs, the proper scheduling program is paramount to keeping meetings and calendars in check. Ideally, this will be a single program that serves and integrates the entire company. It may be clunky at first, but as time goes on, it will improve efficiency overall.

Regardless of how you feel about meetings, it goes without saying that they aren’t always required. Too much reliance on them can transform them into more of a nuisance than a benefit. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of how, when, and for how long they’re scheduled. If you can prevent Zoom fatigue, you’ll be preventing a lot of other problems down the line.

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