Have you noticed it over the last month or two? Does it feel like remote meetings are more tiring than face to face meetings? It’s weird, because as an introvert I find myself getting ‘zoomed out’ more quickly than I’d get ‘roomed out’ and I’ve discovered that I’m not the only one! It’s not only introverts that get tired by remote meetings (just like face to face people contact), it can happen to all of us. Here’s why and some suggestions to help.
Why are remote meetings so tiring?
In a remote meeting your brain is working harder to try and pick up cues from other people. Body language, barely audible signals and tone of voice are much harder to detect; yet they’re still important (specially to introverts). If you’re getting ‘zoomed out’ that could be why.
I noticed it the other day when out for a walk, whilst having a phone discussion. Every time the call got onto a more difficult matter I stopped walking and concentrated harder. Why? Because I was trying to wring out every bit of information from the discussion and walking was one extra bit of multi-tasking that could be turned off.
Also remote meetings often have more gaps in the conversation, or people competing for verbal space. That makes it harder for introverts who may want to say something (greater need to shout out), and more tiring (more random talking).
How to manage being ‘zoomed out’
OK, you’re an introvert finding these remote meetings exhausting. How can you make them easier?
- Restrict yourself: A friend of mine has been to more meetings since lock-down began than she would normally, as there’s less travel time and there also seemed to be more meetings. In addition she signed up for webinars to learn things. Result – zoomed out. Where you can restrict yourself, resist the urge to have sudden quick zoom sessions, ring the changes – use the phone (remember that old tech?)!
- Help run the meeting: OK, this sounds weird and more tiring. It can be, but there’s lots more benefit. You get your message out with less effort.You get seen more readily by your team and your manager. You’re helping your personal profile doing something you’re naturally good at (facilitating is an introvert superpower)
- If you’re not being heard in these meetings, read “Being heard in remote meetings”.
Making your meetings more effective
As a leader you need to have your team attend your meetings. But you need them to be effective, or there’s no point. If people on the call are ‘zoomed out’, not listening, looking at other windows than your meeting – you were wasting their time. Multitasking is a myth, they weren’t engaged in the meeting and it’s you job to change that for next time.
- Make them shorter: As remote meetings are more tiring, make them shorter. Stick to one agenda point, rather than cramming lots in. Yes, you might end up with more, shorter, meetings.
- More breaks: How often have you sat in a meeting room and watched as people start to fidget after an hour? Want the toilet after 75 minutes, and ask to be excused after 90 minutes? That’s before the remote meeting problem. Have regular breaks, get people away from the screen and tell them to return at specified time. This will help everybody, especially zoomed out introverts.
- Have a tighter agenda: If it’s not on the agenda, leave it for next time. If it wasn’t important enough to be on the agenda, it can wait! Don’t run late because of bad planning.
- Use other tools: Don’t just talk, use the chat box, any icons available, voting buttons, polls or even…… out get people to put their hands up for real. Changing the methods will help boost energy.
- More help on this site: Read 22 tips to improve remote meetings
- 22 tips to improve your remote team meetings
- 5 tips to make your meetings better and include introverts
- Why are remote team meetings so tiring?
Or listen to:
An interview with Helene Jewell of the International Association of Facilitators on how to improve your meetings.