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Tips on how to avoid video chat fatigue

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

Video meetings have skyrocketed as many of us have been compelled to work from home and connect with colleagues and customers remotely.

Many of us have experienced the feeling of complete and utter mental exhaustion from sitting for hours on video calls in front of screens.

Whilst remote meetings are unlikely to go away any time soon, there are ways to reduce fatigue and make meetings more effective. Here are some of my tips:

Break minutes into units of 15 minutes

Meetings will naturally expand to fill in the time allocated to them. Break your calendar into units of 15 minutes to facilitate short, sharp one-on-ones or when quick decisions need to be made. Try to shorten one hour minutes to 45 minutes, thereby freeing up attendee diary time.

Consider if the meeting is really necessary

What is the purpose of the meeting? What are the desired outcomes? Is a meeting the most appropriate format or could it be replaced by a newsletter, a video communication or an exchange of emails?

Prepare an agenda

Never host a meeting without preparing an agenda. The agenda should clearly identify topics, expected outcomes, presenters and time allocated. Try not to cover too many topics, ideally three or four, and leave plenty of time for Q&A at the end.

Be very selective on who you invite

The more structured and focused the agenda, the more targeted should be the invited attendees. Ideally there should no more than 6 to 8 attendees. Any more suggests an agenda which is poorly structured or too broad.

Time management

Ending a meeting early creates a positive impact and and fosters a spirit of goodwill that encourages attendees to accept future invitations. Conversely, a meeting should never run over time and end late. If need be, schedule a follow up at a later today or take some of the agenda items offline.

Recurring meetings

Firstly, be clear that a recurring meeting is really necessary. Is there a standing agenda or is there a need for a regular catch-up? Secondly, consider the frequency of the meeting. Can a meeting be scheduled for weekly instead be bi-weekly? Or can a monthly meeting be moved to quarterly? An agenda should be prepared in advance of each recurring meeting, just like any other meeting. If the agenda is light for a given meeting, then adjust the time allocated to it.

Turn-off the video

Give yourself a breather by not using video for every meeting. Consider what video does or doesn't add to the effectiveness of the meeting. Also, consider the preferences of attendees.

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