Whether or not you know the name for it, you know what “Zoom fatigue” is. It’s become pretty common over these last few years as something people experience when they spend a lot of time in remote gatherings. It can be especially problematic for people who frequently use video conferencing platforms for long stretches of time.
If you’re planning a virtual event, Zoom fatigue should be top of mind. It’s important to consider how to prevent Zoom fatigue from becoming a problem for your attendees. Thankfully, you have options to combat Zoom fatigue and keep attendees focused and engaged throughout your event.
What Is Zoom Fatigue?
Spending half an hour on a Zoom call here and there isn’t a problem for most people. But if you spend a big chunk of the working day on conference calls and in remote meetings, then you’ll probably have experienced Zoom meeting fatigue. And it’s a problem not just at work but also for virtual meetings and events that use video conferencing platforms.
What is Zoom fatigue, exactly? Zoom fatigue is another name for mental fatigue but with a new name to reflect the fact that it’s associated with video meetings. When people experience Zoom fatigue, they have a hard time staying focused. They might feel tired, disengaged, or even irritable. Simply put, Zoom fatigue increases the cognitive load needed to stay focused, which reduces engagement. There are several reasons why this happens:
- In a Zoom call, people spend most of their time looking at a screen. The net effect of this is long stretches of simulated eye contact. To most people, this feels unnatural and discomforting.
- Most video conferencing platforms display a real-time view of the user, so people spend a lot of time watching themselves. This is also unnatural, uncomfortable, and mentally exhausting.
- On long video calls, you’re stuck spending lots of time sitting down. Movement restriction adds to the feeling of fatigue.
- It’s harder to interpret body language and nonverbal cues remotely. This means effective communication is more taxing.
Zoom fatigue happens because long online calls force us to act in ways that feel unnatural and uncomfortable. Those longer calls are therefore mentally taxing. As a result, it’s harder to focus and stay engaged. Zoom fatigue is real, and it’s an issue every virtual event planner should consider when developing event content.
How to combat Zoom Fatigue at Your Next Virtual Event
You don’t want your attendees experiencing Zoom fatigue at your virtual event. Zoom fatigue is all but guaranteed to reduce their enjoyment and interest and to tank their engagement levels. So how do you overcome Zoom fatigue at a virtual event or in a virtual meeting?
1. Don’t Use Zoom.
The most obvious solution to the problem of Zoom fatigue is, of course, to avoid using Zoom altogether. If you can avoid using Zoom and other simple webinar platforms, then you’ve got a head start when it comes to preventing Zoom fatigue.
Your best option is a virtual events platform that offers a 3D event experience. This helps prevent Zoom fatigue because it mimics the live event experience more closely than standard video conferencing platforms. With a 3D virtual events platform, attendees get to explore a digital world that’s set up like a live venue. They can venture through the digital venue, interact with venue features, and talk to other people in a more organic and natural fashion. Because the event experience feels more like a live event, it’s more engaging and less mentally taxing. The 3D event experience is also more interactive, which makes it inherently more interesting and engaging. It doesn’t completely solve the problem of Zoom fatigue, but it does make it easier to keep a virtual audience engaged.
But if you do have to use Zoom…
You can help attendees combat their own Zoom fatigue by reminding them to turn their cameras off. In some instances—such as networking sessions—using the camera is beneficial. But if they’re watching a speaker or panel discussion, there’s usually no need to keep their own camera on. Or they can hide selfview, so they don’t have to see themselves on screen for the whole time.
2. Focus on Developing a Quality Content Schedule.
A solid, engaging content schedule that’s designed to boost engagement can help overcome Zoom fatigue. For any virtual event, no matter the platform it’s operating on, taking this kind of thoughtful approach to content is always a plus.
- Choose speakers, panelists, and moderators who have experience with virtual events. What works for physical sessions doesn’t necessarily work for virtual ones, so try to choose people who have proven success with online formats.
- Include a variety of content types in the lineup. Don’t schedule speaker after speaker after speaker for a full day of content. Instead, mix up the agenda and schedule different types of sessions for each day.
- Keep sessions short. The best length for online sessions is around 30 to 45 minutes. If you have to go over that time, schedule a mid-session break.
3. Boost Engagement with Interactive Elements.
Being mindful of your content schedule isn’t the only way to boost engagement. Another effective option is to give attendees something to do. Attendees who are asked to sit and passively absorb information for too long are likely to get bored. They may start multitasking on something outside the event, meaning they’re no longer as receptive to yourcontent—or even hearing it.
Instead, give your guests something to do within the event platform. They’ll be better able to focus on event content and less likely to turn to outside tasks for something to do. Some options include:
- Q&A sessions: Include Q&A sessions that let attendees ask their own questions of the speakers they’re watching.
- Gamification: Add gamification elements such as achievement badges or points. This works because these elements make people active rather than passive content consumers. It also makes them more invested in event content.
- Live polls: Sprinkle live polls or questions into content to keep people thinking about what they’re watching.
- Breakout activities: Schedule breakout sessions with icebreaker activities or teambuilding exercises. These can be effective ways to keep engagement high, and you can boost participation by offering prizes or achievements.
4. Consider Audio-Only Options.
Another possibility is to provide audio-only content options. This may require some creative thinking to make it work, but giving attendees a little more flexibility in how they consume event content is definitely a good thing.
One way to execute this is with audio-only breakout spaces. This might mean spaces where people get to chat amongst themselves. Or it could mean moderated voice channels with scheduled group discussions. This can be an effective way to flesh out your content schedule. With the right moderator, group chats can be just as engaging and entertaining as panel discussions and other similar formats.
Another option is to stream audio-only versions of keynotes, panels, and other sessions. Providing presenters don’t rely too heavily on visual media, audio-only can be a satisfying listening experience.
Get more audio-only ideas here!
Plan to Combat Zoom Fatigue, and You’ll Improve the Virtual Event Experience
Choosing a suitable virtual events platform is an important part of creating a great event experience. Zoom isn’t an ideal option, especially for long meetings or events where Zoom fatigue is a threat to high engagement levels. By planning your content schedule thoughtfully on an immersive virtual events platform, you can overcome Zoom fatigue. You’ll help your attendees get the most out of the event and enjoy their event experience.