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Like many of us, I have been spending weeks on end in my home office in front of my computer screen. And at the end of each week, I have been bleary eyed and utterly exhausted.

Wanting to better understand why I was so tired, I logged onto my Zoom account to see how much time I had spent ‘connecting’ to clients and colleagues during the week.

Whether conducting group sessions, working one-on-one, facilitating a large group presentation or participating in a virtual happy hour, I spent over 45 HOURS IN ZOOM MEETINGS in one week alone.

I’m ‘ZOOMED OUT’.

And I know I’m not alone.

***

I want to state it LOUD and clear:  Video conferencing platforms are ESSENTIAL tools and have been true LIFE SAVERS in helping me navigate through COVID-19.

The ability to visually see so many people in lieu of being able to meet them in person has been instrumental in helping everyone move through this unprecedented time of social isolation.  Imagine how much more lonely we would all feel if we were NOT able to catch a glimpse of our work colleagues, clients, family members and friends via Zoom.

Yet like many ‘cool new toys,’ we tend to overuse them. The result? ZOOM FATIGUE. 

How can we maintain the virtual connections video conferencing provides us without ‘over Zooming?’ How can we create a healthy Zoom/Life balance? 

Below are a set of lessons learned and best practices that you can use to still virtually connect yet not overdose on screen time.

1 – The Virtual Zoom Huddle


Kickstart your day with a brief, ten minute huddle with your internal team. 
Ten minutes is all you need to see one another and identify what everyone should be focused on for the day.  Each attendee should share the things they’re working on and where they need help. Team leaders should make themselves available for 20 minutes after the call to answer any follow-up questions and to help the team members individually.

2 – Don’t Forget Your One-on-Ones


Group Zoom meetings are great, but they do not take the place of individual conversations with your individual team members.  While one-on-ones are not needed every day, make sure to schedule quick, individual 5 to 10 minute video chats with the members of your team once every two weeks.  Think of it as the substitute for passing by their desk or having them pop into your office at work to make sure everything is going alright and they are set up for success. 

3 – There’s a reason it’s called a SmartPHONE.


Some conversations do not require having to be on a video conference call.  A simple ‘phone call’ will suffice.  It also will strengthen your listening skills and give your eyes a much needed rest.  Some of those follow up conversations that might be needed after your ‘Virtual Zoom Huddle’ can be conducted on your phone.  Phone conversations tend to be shorter and not to mention easier to initiate.

4 – Keep Good Time


Set expectations for EVERY meeting. If it is scheduled to be a 30 minute meeting, aim to wrap it up in 25.  Abiding to the set time frame shows a sense of empathy and a respect for time for all attendees.  Remember that there is a high probability that others have multiple calls throughout the day. It’s a great idea to assign the role of a participant time-keeper for any video conference meeting you have.  The time-keeper should make sure to keep everyone aware and updated as to the amount of time remaining on the call.  More importantly, if a very important topic needs to be addressed … asking all attendees for permission if they can stay on longer is arguably as important as the issue at hand.  

5 – Meet for ONE drink


I love happy hours. The opportunity to see and interact with people in a more relaxed setting is a great way to catch-up. I am even learning to love VIRTUAL happy hours. However, I’ve attended some gatherings where the audience is so large that it’s hard to really enjoy the reunion.  When there are too many people on the screen, it’s hard to connect with anyone.  Groups of 10 or less are ideal.  More than 10 can become challenging, and when the number exceeds 15, it’s just too many virtual attendees.  Try to keep your gathering to a ‘one drink minimum’ – which should be roughly 30 minutes.  Think of it as catching up with a friend at the train station.  It’s ideal for one drink and then you need to head home. You can always set up a “Virtual Coffee” if the one-drink wasn’t enough.

6 – Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew


Solving one problem within one meeting is a major accomplishment. 
Yet somehow we believe that we can tackle multiple issues within one session.  More often than not, taking on too many issues at once ends up wasting time and confusing matters even more. 
Meet to handle one issue at a time. 
The more focused the meeting is, the more productive it will be. 
And that rule holds for both in-person and virtual meetings.

Lou Diamond is a Keynote  Speaker | Growth Consultant | Leadership Mentor | Best-Selling Author | Host of Thrive LOUD  & the CEO of Thrive –  helping businesses, leaders and brands achieve explosive growth through the power of connecting.