Stand out from the competition while avoiding common pitfalls of video conferencing.
If you’ve found yourself dreading yet another virtual meeting, you’re not alone. After more than a year of primarily interacting with others via video conferences, the feeling of being drained from these meetings has become so prevalent it’s earned its own terminology – Zoom fatigue.
For insurance professionals, Zoom fatigue presents yet another challenge to an already-stressful year. Insurance relies on close, personal relationships, and while social distancing restrictions are easing in many places, video conferencing remains the safest alternative to meeting literally face-to-face with potential clients. Yet, knowing that many are facing the same fatigue with virtual meetings as you are, asking a client to hop on Zoom or Webex isn’t likely to elicit feelings of joy, especially when it’s to talk about insurance.
Which brings us to our first tip for combatting Zoom fatigue:
1. Don’t Zoom.
Or Webex. Or FaceTime. Or any other type of video conferencing. If you have alternative options, it could be this simple. When you can, try communicating with your clients in a different way, even if it’s as simple as a phone call. Giving yourself and your clients a break from webcams can eliminate stress for both of you, allowing for better communication overall.
Sometimes, in lieu of in-person meetings, video conferencing is necessary. For those cases, check out the remaining tips on how to mitigate Zoom fatigue.
Putting in a little prep-work before logging on can go a long way towards having an effective, fatigue-free meeting. Start with the basics. Pinpoint the why and how of the meeting to create an agenda. Why are you meeting? How will you accomplish the task? A well-made agenda can help keep the meeting moving and prevent awkward silences or unproductive conversations.
After your agenda is set, make sure your backdrop is too. Choose a space in your home that provides good lighting, and little clutter. Eliminate as many distractions as possible, including anything that might tempt you into multi-tasking (your email inbox, tv, social media).
Next, test out your technology to make sure that your meeting isn’t derailed by slow connections, faulty audio or other unexpected technical issues. Ask your attendees to test out their tech beforehand and offer any assistance you can if issues arise.
Finally, dress the part. Choose professional attire, just as you would if you were meeting in-person, with some notable exceptions. Try not to wear a striped top, as stripes don’t read well on a screen. Also, avoid noisy jewelry that could become a distraction.
3. Turn off self-view.
Humans can be vain, but few of us spend our entire days in front of the mirror. While previewing how you look on screen before a video conference can be helpful, watching yourself during a meeting can be a huge distraction. In fact, the ability to see ourselves during video calls has been named one of the four leading causes of Zoom fatigue, according to researchers at Stanford University. The easiest solution is to change the platform’s settings to hide the self-view.
To help ease your audience’s anxiety, let them know that it’s okay to turn their camera off. While this doesn’t allow you to read their facial expressions, it does allow them to focus more on what you say than what they look like.
4. Keep it short and build in breaks.
According to Microsoft, studies show that video conference participants mentally check out after 30 minutes. After two hours, stress starts to significantly increase in attendees. If you anticipate that your meeting will last longer than a half-hour, schedule 15 minute breaks. These will allow you and your attendees to recharge before diving back into the meeting.
5. Keep it human.
Non-verbal communication and social cues add depth and context to conversations, but when you can only see a person from their shoulders up, you lose most of that context. To show potential clients that you are actively listening to their needs, Forbes suggests dialing up your non-verbal cues, like leaning in or nodding your head as they speak.
6. Use visuals.
Another primary cause of Zoom fatigue is cognitive overload and sustained, superficial eye-contact. Simply put, staring at a screen of people ala Brady Bunch-style stresses out the brain. It doesn’t know what to focus on. By incorporating visuals into your meeting, you can help direct your attendees’ focus and alleviate some of that stress.
There are a few ways to incorporate visuals into your meeting. You can share your screen, send documents out ahead of time or even install apps that assist in creating presentations within video conferencing platforms. If you plan on sharing your screen, let the other meeting participants know ahead of time.
7. Allow downtime
This might sound a bit like the first tip, but it’s important to set aside time when you aren’t video conferencing. Some companies are considering Zoom-free Fridays or other set times that prohibit video calls, according to The Enterprisers Project. As an insurance professional, an entire day without meetings might not be possible. Instead, make sure that you allow some downtime between meetings. Removing yourself from a screen can help your brain process the last meeting, as well as prepare for the next one.
Even as regular, in-person activities return to some level of normalcy, video conferencing is here to stay. By learning how to leverage video calls effectively, and reducing the aspects that cause fatigue, you can better relate to your clients, building a stronger, more productive relationship.
Mary Carder, Integrated Marketing Specialist