How to beat Zoom fatigue at your virtual and hybrid events.

We’ve all been in a Zoom meeting or virtual event where, at some point, looking at the screen becomes just plain exhausting. This is the Zoom fatigue. There can be a lot of contributing factors, but it really comes down to trying a lot of big things — like talking to a room full of people, taking notes, and pitching creative ideas — on a screen that’s many times smaller than a real life conference room. It can be a tall order. The good news is there are actually some tried and true ways to cutdown on Zoom fatigue, all while creating a more exciting virtual and hybrid experience. Here are some of our favorites.

GIFs of Ireland's Virtual St. Patrick's Day Parade

Inspire people to get out and make some event content!

Ireland’s Virtual St. Patrick’s day parade encouraged viewers to go outside and film their own St. Patrick’s Day themed content. The videos included people dancing, singing, hiking, kayaking, and of course — wearing lots of green. Radio Television Ireland also promoted all of these videos to their youtube page with the hashtag #RTEvirtualparade. We live in a time where creating content is part of who we are, and how we express ourselves (even when it’s just a funny instagram story). The more organizers can inspire attendees to get out and create interesting content around the event, the more organic the marketing can be. Also, it gets attendees off Zoom, out of the house, and out into the real world. Really helping to end that Zoom fatigue.

"The Office" Dwight Shrute meditating in a field

Take a break! It sounds obvious, but it works.

Well advertised and pre-scheduled breaks are some of the first things people look for when they log-in for their virtual and hybrid event. With accurate breaktime information, attendees can plan their event sessions around all the other activities that keep them motivated and refreshed in their downtime. Many events offer yoga or meditation classes during break times, but it may be just as beneficial for the entire event to take a break at some point. This way, everyone at the event (even the people running the event) have an opportunity to close their laptop, take a stretch, go for a walk, or maybe grab a snack. No, definitely grab a snack 🙂

Sick of sitting on video meetings all day? Step away from the screen and try a walking meeting with Spot.

Walk and talk!

A new app called Spot helps people set up voice calls so that they can have meetings while out on a walk, or at the beach, or the park, or pretty much anywhere. You might be asking how is this different from a conference call? Stick with us here. Spot can help you streamline scheduling, share call notes, and use advanced noise cancellation software to block out car horns, garbage trucks, and outside sounds in general. Many people have claimed to reinvent the telephone in the last century, but there might be another voice calling for a revolution coming soon. Between Spot, and similar voice calling app Clubhouse, there is a clear interest in people looking for high-end meeting experience, with as little screen time as possible. This is a great option to rest those tired Zoom fatigued eyes.

Illustrations of "sketchnoting" Where attendees take visual picture notes instead of writing.

Encourage “sketchnoting”

Eductor Todd Berman says that sketchnoting (a popular system of taking visual notes — think very focused doodling) can “give us a lot more durability on camera.” Basically a number of good things happen when we sketchnote. First and foremost, we are able to take part in a meeting without looking at the screen, greatly reducing screen time. The second is we can create a visual library of easy to draw symbols to help connect our small doodles, into big ideas that we will actually remember. Sketchnoting is mostly used in classrooms at the moment, but the ability to express concepts in simple visual ways can help just about anyone, with anything. People might have looked down on doodling through a Zoom call a year ago, but at this stage in remote working, we think that anything we can do to mix it up is least worth a try. 

Similarly related, we teamed up with Ink Factory to create a live drawing of our How to Hybrid event. This was obviously a professional sketchnote, but the end result is definitely much easier on the eyes than 10 pages of notes in a Google doc. Click the link above to check it out.

SXSW Online 2021 GIF showing stand up comedians performing

Stream from real venues

SXSW streamed their virtual comedy festival from some of the world’s most famous stand-up stages. Comedians got to perform on real life stages, with real stage lights, and even a small audience. For the attendees viewing from home, this made the event feel like they were watching a live comedy show — maybe even the first one they’ve seen in a year. Streaming your virtual or hybrid event at a real venue can help transport people away from their normal Zoom calls, and into another world. We’re so used to seeing everyone’s home offices that any event, on a real stage, with top notch production, will be far more memorable. Not to mention your presenters will be very excited to walk around a stage again!

Virtual Zoom attendees surprised by Michell Obama and Jimmy Fallon participation

Plan a celebrity Zoom surprise!

Michelle Obama and Jimmy Fallon recently crashed random Zoom meetings as part of a sketch for the Jimmy Fallon show. The meeting participants were surprised (obviously), and it definitely made people refocus on their screens. For organizers looking to recreate something like this, encourage presenters or other celebrity speakers already booked for your event to randomly pop into the breakout rooms. If you feel that a room needs a little help with the discussion, or attendees are maybe a little shy, have a keynote speaker jump in to get things energized again. While most people don’t like surprises, chatting with a person they really admire might be just what they need to break out of their shell. And a surprise like this will surely wake you up from a Zoom fatigue slumber!

It’s all about less, and more exciting screen time 

We can’t get rid of Zoom (not that we want to) but we can definitely limit it, and fill that space with other ways to connect — like voice calls, or simply just taking a break. We can also work to make the virtual experience more interesting with things like sketchnoting and surprise visits from keynote speakers. Bottom line, after a year + of remote living, Zoom still works, but it’s time to mix it up if we want to keep it working and lesen the Zoom fatigue.

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