The rapid increase in meetings and conversations using video tools illustrates the enormous brain power needed for virtual interactions.
The resulting exhaustion already has a name: “Zoom fatigue”. University professor Andrew Franklin talks about this topic in the National Geographic.
In face-to-face conversations, we process countless subtle pieces of information from facial expressions, gestures, breathing and body language of the other(s). This helps to classify and understand what is being said. In addition, we can immediately ask questions or make comments. Often, just creasing the forehead, raising the eyebrows or a sigh are enough.
In video conferences there are no parallel conversations, participants are only seen in portrait – and depending on the lighting and resolution even this poorly. If software or hardware are inadequate, audio and video quality are themselves major obstacles and require extreme continuous attention and brain power to filter out interference.
View settings are also important: If you only see the speaker, important information (sounds, movements, signs) of the other participants are lost. If the tool is set to gallery view, the brain tries to process too much information at once. This is called “continuous partial attention”. It leads to everything being processed just a little bit, but nothing in a really meaningful way. Not even the speaker!
Thus, when planning virtual meetings and workshops, it is important to keep this in mind, otherwise frustration and inattention are inevitable:
Frequent breaks, break-out groups, clear hand signals and rules help to navigate this new context. Meanwhile, there are many tips, tricks, tutorials, and workshops on this topic. Use these instead of simply transferring behavior and rules from the analogue world to the virtual one!