We started the first article in this series by stating, “We have been thrust into a virtual work world with little or no warning. Most of us have been at it now long enough to either suffer from Zoom fatigue or Zoom fear.” After sharing tips to help you navigate Zoom fatigue, I now want to share insights to help you with Zoom fear. These tips are applicable no matter what platform you use for your meetings. When I reference “Zoom fear,” I am not focusing on our fear of participating in a virtual meeting but more so on the fear you may have of doing it well. According to Zoom, the vast majority of us are already using Zoom 75% of the time. Yet many people worry about how to improve their impact and influence during a virtual meeting.
Our Zoom fears can be influenced by the following:
- Technology Worry. Our effectiveness can be diminished by the fear that something could go wrong with my technology, such as losing audio or being disconnected from the internet. This type of fear is heightened for those who see themselves as Introverts. To combat this, practice reconnecting by intentionally disconnecting yourself and reconnecting. Have an internet access backup ready if you can, such as a hotspot on your phone. By practicing, you will make your brain more comfortable knowing what to do and how fast you can do it, should it actually occur during a call.
- Background Worry. Many of us worry about how our environment will come across on camera. In essence, these video meetings are letting the whole team into our homes. Consequently, more and more attendees are using virtual backgrounds. Unfortunately, many of these virtual backgrounds are triggering distractions for the human brain. I was in a meeting a few days ago where one attendee kept completely disappearing every time he moved. The human brain cannot ignore certain threat stimuli, and when something like that occurs, it must pause to make sure it understands what just happened before it can return to active listening. Virtual backgrounds can work for you if they are done correctly. A good alternative would be a simple wall background with minimal distractions.
- Environmental Worry. The internet is plagued with videos of reporters and others who had embarrassing interruptions during their live broadcast. I saw a research study that said 9 out of 10 of us were thrust into a virtual work from home situation with no warning. While we cannot always control the barking dog or crying baby, do everything you can to control your environment and reduce distractions. We often worry about how these distractions will “make us look” or how they might negatively impact the message we are trying to convey. The human brain is easily distracted. To the extent that you can, I recommend sequestering a private lockable space from which you could work. This way, you can lock the door. Or hang a sign to let others know that you are live on camera. In my home, I reinforce this with a group text message to the family.
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