Let’s face it…at this point we’re all probably experiencing some level of virtual meeting fatigue. I mean, at first it was fun….a little different…but fun. You probably looked forward to logging in 3 – 4 times a week and seeing your co-workers through the computer. You even got to see a little glimpse of their world when their children went running across the room in the background or you noticed some interesting artwork on the wall. On top of that, you didn’t have to drive into the office or sit in conference rooms AND you only had to dress professionally from the waist up. You thought to yourself, ‘This is great! I could get used to this!’
But, slowly it got old…you started begrudgingly accepting meeting requests as the virtual meetings became more and more frequent. Then the meetings started to get boring, monotonous, and a little predictable. Now you find it difficult to stay focused and you keep looking at the clock to see how much longer before you can log off and spend some quality time with your family. Just admit it…the thrill is gone! You are officially experiencing Virtual Meeting Fatigue.
Now, luckily there are ways to combat this fatigue and I have listed 5 ways you can instantly reduce it during your virtual meetings:
1. Spend the First 10 Minutes Having Fun!
Instead of starting off your meetings in a traditional way, put a fun topic on the agenda first. For example, Show ‘N Tell is always a crowd-pleaser. Simply have a few team members pick something personal to show and tell the team about. It could be their son’s high school graduation picture that they’re proud of. It could be a new recipe that they’ve tried lately. Or it could be a movie on Netflix that they’ve been binge watching. Whatever it is, you can’t go wrong with a good ol’ fashioned game of Show ‘N Tell!
Next, you can have a team scavenger hunt where team members are given a list of items to find around their house. Be sure to put some not so common items on the list. Whoever finds all or most of the items within a certain amount of time wins a prize (Starbucks gift card, 1-year subscription to the Calm app, etc.). Now, the fun will really start when the winning team member explains why they actually have certain things in their home!
Another fun thing you can try is sharing health and fitness tips. Have the team share what they have been doing to stay healthy during this time. Maybe give tips on new workout videos or good deals on bicycles, jump ropes, and other workout equipment. Some team members may even want to share weight loss goals and become accountability partners. Do I hear a weight loss challenge!?! And don’t forget your mental health! Encourage others to share places to find daily devotionals, inspirational readings, yoga tips, etc.
2. Add Breaks During the Meeting
Believe or not, but this simple necessity is often overlooked. Part of the reason for the fatigue is the fact that you may be sitting in the same spot for the entire meeting. Simply taking a break instantly increases energy and gives you a moment to clear your mind. Now, you can take breaks in 2 ways. You can stop the meeting for a brief period so team members can step away from their computer and use the restroom, get a drink of water, eat a snack, etc. Or you can have a break that the team takes together while staying at their computer. The latter may be for a shorter amount of time and could require a leader. You may want to have someone lead a 3-minute break by asking everyone to stand and do some basic stretching exercises together. You can have a different break leader for each meeting.
3. Rotate Meeting Facilitators
No offense to the supervisors out there, but sometimes it may help to spice up your meetings by letting other people facilitate. I’m sure you do a great job, but having a different facilitator for each meeting can really increase energy! This minor adjustment allows team members to be more involved and take ownership and not just simply listen to the manager do all (or most of) the talking. It will take minimal effort to organize a meeting facilitator schedule. Try it and see how it works!
4. Implement Nuggets of Learning
Just like you started off the meeting with something fun and interesting, end on the same note. A lot of professionals are currently using this time to upskill and gain new knowledge to prepare themselves for the workforce of the future. Allow 1 team member each meeting to share something that they’ve learned that could be beneficial to the entire team. They can share by doing a mini-presentation, showing a quick video, or listing websites and resources in the chatbox. This will ultimately be a win-win for everyone.
5. Start Using an Ergonomic Laptop/Computer Stand
Again, part of the reason you may be experiencing fatigue is that you are sitting in one spot for the whole meeting. This can definitely cause you to feel drained by the end. Using an ergonomic stand obviously allows you to stand up while using your computer, which is really the more healthy way to work. Standing more frequently reduces back and neck pain and helps you maintain a better poster. With an ergonomic stand, you will also be able to raise your computer to an appropriate level and reduce screen glare, which can lead to eye strain and headaches. Studies have shown that standing desks ultimately improve mood and energy levels. (Side note: You can actually do some exercises while you are standing during the meeting. But shhh….don’t tell your supervisor! And be sure your camera is turned off!)
These are just a few examples of how you can reduce virtual meeting fatigue. It seems as if teleworking will be the new norm, so it will be best to implement some non-traditional practices to keep it engaging. I’d love to hear other ways you and your team are making your meetings fun!