5 Tips for Overcoming Virtual Meetings Fatigue

We are now going on several months where screen captures of Zoom meetings have become the new selfie. In this time of social distancing, a lot of our social contacts are through a camera lens and a video screen. 

In so many ways, we should be very thankful for the technology that has allowed us to stay somewhat connected to the world around us, but at the same time, we are feeling the fatigue that comes with staring at tiny boxes of people on our computers.

  • Small group now meets online. 
  • Work meetings are online. 
  • Worship on Sunday is streamed to the TV. 
  • Extended family chats are facilitated through Zoom.

So, what do we do when our minds and bodies start shutting down from virtual meetings overload? Here are five tips to overcome your Zoom/Hangouts/WebEx/Skype/Facetime fatigue.

  1. Schedule breaks in-between online meetings.

It’s tempting to schedule back-to-back virtual meetings because the travel time is eliminated. We can easily jump to the next Zoom link instead of taking the elevator to the 5th floor conference room. However, we need those few minutes to reset and refresh our brain for the next task. Build in a buffer of at least 10-20 minutes between your online meetings and you will notice the difference.

  1. Utilize the phone occasionally.

As an introvert and an Enneagram5, talking on the phone is not one of my top 100 things to do in a day. I am normally a text first, and if absolutely necessary, make a quick, 30 second phone call, but even I am seeing the need for connecting with people in one-on-one conversation. Picking up the phone to find out how someone in your small group is doing can actually be revitalizing instead of draining. You can also occasionally call in to that virtual meeting instead of videoing in. That gives you the opportunity to walk around and even step outside during it.

  1. Build in breaks during longer meetings.

It’s amazing how much concentration it takes to engage in an online meeting. There are so many more distractions and things to look at than an in-person meeting in a conference room or someone’s living room. Normal meeting actions, like looking out of the window while someone else is talking, can seem very disengaging on a video call. You feel the need to focus on the screen the entire time. That makes a two hour virtual meeting feel more like four hours. It’s important to schedule in 5-10 minute breaks every hour for participants to use the restroom or just disengage from a screen. Make sure you use that time to look at something other than a computer monitor. Don’t use it to check your email or update your calendar.

  1. Schedule shorter meetings.

We know that virtual meetings always feel longer than physical meetings, so plan for it and keep most of your meetings shorter. This applies to online church services as well. If your normal Sunday service is an hour and half, consider cutting the online version to an hour. Staring at a screen is not the same as participating in a gathering. Instead, encourage participation by offering resources for families to use for a post-service discussion.

  1. Keep a Zoom sabbath

Having a day scheduled each week for no meetings is good advice anytime, but especially now with everything taking place in one location. As this isolation goes on, lines drawn in our lives will begin to blur. In this time it will be easy — and unhealthy — for the office to take over too much of our homes. Because of this you might consider, as a team, making certain days “meeting free” or give team members the right to decline for various reasons. Etiquette would warrant always giving an explanation with any decline.

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About the author

Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with more than twenty years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Teams at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN., and Seacoast Church in Charleston, S.C., prior to becoming the Discipleship and Small Groups Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is the author of Small Groups for the Rest of Us and the just released, Leading Small Groups: How to Gather, Launch, Lead, and Multiply Your Small Group.