With the second wave of Covid-19 slingshot-ing us back to the safety of our lounge rooms, virtual calls have again become our meeting medium. Platforms such as Zoom, Skype and House Party have been interwoven into our daily work life, providing us with the ability to host workshops, meetings, team catch-ups, and virtual drinks with participants all over the globe from the comfort of our homes. It is technology like this that really separates us from the 14th century Black Plague… okay and maybe a few other things too like our mask fashion has dropped the spooky bird look…

But even with our advanced technology, video conferencing still faces dilemmas. New terms like “Zoom Doom” and “Zoom fatigue” are often on peoples tongues, but what exactly is Zoom Doom? And how do we defeat it? Cluster Member Olivia Solomons and her company, Glow, have begun hosting webinars to tackle this issue, helping people develop their video presenting, public speaking and conferencing skills. Her unique offering in Glow comes from a range of strategies and techniques cultivated from her years of experience acting on stage and working both sides of the camera!

What Is Zoom Doom

Regular Virtual meetings are beginning to drain both the viewers, who are struggling to stay engaged, and hosts who feel exhausted from having to emote more than they regularly would so they aren’t just another talking face in a little box. For some people the inability to be engaged leads to feelings of unproductiveness and embarrassment.

Why is it difficult to concentrate?

Humans are social creatures and as the adage goes: actions speak louder than words. Numerous experts acknowledge this, agreeing that 70 to 93 percent of communication is non-verbal. Although video conferencing is magnificent in the sense that it allows you to see your presenter and all the participants in a gallery view, it is usually only framed from the shoulders up, eliminating a huge portion of body language. This “Brady-bunch” style can be an overwhelming sensory distraction as it’s easier to look at to someone’s cat walking in the background rather than listening to your boss chatting about revenues.

It is also important to acknowledge that there is a huge difference between meetings in real life vs those on a screen. Everyone is in a different setting and environment, which often comes with their own background noises. Ted’s worried the his toaster’s about to pop, whilst Bev’s still struggling to stay awake, maybe Alley has to pick her kids up in 10 minutes, and Maya puts away a rouge bobby pin in her heater only get electrocuted in front of everyone in the team meeting (an unfortunately true story )!  It is possible your coworkers speak and behave slightly differently; this could be because they are at home and might not feel completely immersed in the work mindset. There is also no ability to have side chats or small talk with the people next to you as only one person can speak at a time (perhaps not always a bad thing). It’s important to acknowledge all these factors.

For many parents, children in the background or knowing they are downstairs and could appear at anytime, creates an inner anxiety. Millions got a laugh from the BBC interview of a father in his study unfazed by his child scattering into the room, followed by the baby in it’s walker, and finally by the panicky mother gathering them all out of the room! A hilarious moment, but the fear of any parent in a zoom meeting.

Individual Learning styles

We all retain information and learn indifferent ways, which it vital to remember when on a video call. So it’s important to know where your team falls in regards to the three categories below:

kinaesthetic: Hands-on approach, you learn best from physically doing something rather than passively watching someone else do it.

Auditory: Information is gained best through listening, so speeches, presentations, audio books and podcasts work best.

Visual: Learn mostly from graphics or visual aids such as pictures and colours. When recalling information, you often visualise it in your head as you saw it written down.

The real key to engaging an entire audience is understanding this and finding ways to involve all senses.

Olivia’s Steps to take to improve your Video skills.

With 20 years of experience, Olivia is an Actress, Presenter, Director and Producer with a wide net of experiences, which has lead to develop a range of skills and strategies to mitigate Zoom Doom. Here are few nifty tricks taken from her webinar:

Tech check

Check your technology! Is your microphone clear? Have you wiped the lens of your camera? Have you thought about pre-recording yourself so that you know how your audience is hearing you? If you have 2 monitors make sure your video conference is on the monitor right in front of you/your eyes.

Have a’plan B’ if technology or internet connection fails you. If you are the host it is your job to take care of your guests.

Environment check

In person we get to see and hear all verbal and non-verbal language. Online, you only have one frame so be selective of what makes it in. Avoid backgrounds that will distract from you (so frame out those dirty dishes, messy bedroom settings). Be your own location scout or set designer – maybe add some greenery or a bookcase as props can help balance sound and make the scene more appealing. Natural lighting is always best and the rule of thumb with natural light, is to face it (i.e. if you face away from the window, you will get shadows and darkness making it harder to see you). If you don’t have sunshine, use your room lighting and bring in some lamps around the house, or invest in a ring light/LED light.)


How do you look and sound today? Bring the same ‘in-person’ behaviour into your online meetings.  Wear what you would normally wear in these circumstances. If it’s a high-pressure meeting and you normally wear a blazer or heels, feel free to still wear these – if they help your mindset/ psychological state, then use these same tools to empower you for the video medium.

How do you sound?  Have you warmed your voice and body up? In between your meetings do you walk and stretch? Introduce your own ‘circuit breakers’ to get refocused.

Eye contact is key!

Where is your audience? On the other side of the lens! It’s hard staring down a camera barrel but we must form this habit to connect to the audience and signal our active listening. Audience connection takes place when people feel seen and heard, so look up! It might feel strange at first, but it’ll feel normal to your audience. Divide your time between looking at them on your screen, looking at your material and looking down the barrel of your camera.

Use your hands and gestures!

Our non-verbal communication is important. Showing your hands and engaging your body is key. When we are aligned, we talk and breathe with our whole body. We must be creative and remember to bring this same behaviour to our frame. If standing up helps you to do this, then have your meetings standing!


Clarity in communication, active listening and valuable content is also essential. If you’d like to build your video muscles and gain strategies to implement into your next zoom meeting, then be sure to chat to Liv!

Find out more about Olivia’s incredible work at:

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The Cluster was Australia’s first coworking office, starting up in 2009 with 80 desks and a new concept that no one had yet seen in Australia. To this day, The Cluster remains a leading space that stands out with its sophisticated yet cheery ambiance.

Here at the Cluster we cherish the human factor. We often feel like a big family with a great warm community and genuine people behind the scenes. No faceless corporation here! It’s a space where the members care about the space just as much as the staff.

Our receptionists are always down for a chat!

Who are we really?

We are run by a Melbourne based Family who aren’t invisible to the members. Often you’ll see the CEOS Kirsten and her Partner Chris’s, smiley faces popping by for a general gasbag or to chat about all things business.

“It’s more than just the physical space… it’s people we employ and the motivation of each individual employee to engage sincerely and authentically with others around them. But most importantly, it’s a large handful of the members that we attract, who help create the magic, the soul and the energy of The Cluster”                                                                                                                                                       Kirsten Koci – Director and CEO

The first thing you will see when you step into the fabulous space (besides the jaw dropping panoramic 360 view of the Melbourne CBD) is a chirpy and unique reception team, who believe in entrepreneurs and make all efforts to get to know YOU!

At the Cluster, the office is yours, not ours. That’s why you won’t find any “Cluster” signage at our front desks, as we believe in greeting your guests as receptionists for you and not for the coworking space you happen to work in. It is all about you, not us! Members love this and so do their clients. Often clients think the entire floor belongs to the member they are visiting. Fake it until you make it!

A perk of being a family run company is the flexibility. It is easy to have your ideas heard and put into action. The Cluster also works hard to support our members and use their services wherever we can. For instance, one of our longest serving members, Point Advisory (who have been and grown with us for a staggering 8 years!), helped us from the beginning to be the first coworking space that is completely carbon neutral.

We also take pride in supporting a range of wonderful charities by providing them with memberships, such as Australia for Dolphins, who work to protect the legal rights of dolphins and small marine cetaceans. There’s also, Society Melbourne, who are aiding to eliminate youth homelessness.

The Cluster is an environment full of diversity with organisations of all different ventures, which provides ample opportunities from networking to self-growth. There is never a dull moment, with a range of no pressure social events always on offer, from yoga classes to free Friday night drinks!

Smiles abound at our End of Month Drinks!

An overview of The Clusters services

The Cluster provides a range of specialized services and membership options, with no hidden costs, that can cater to every person’s needs, even those who live on the other side of Australia!

We have pioneered by building our own software and infrastructure to offer Virtual mailing and telephony services. The Cluster saw the need for freelance workers and small businesses to be able to use a professional city address along with phone services, which really is a special service, as instead of using a call centre, our front of house will answer calls for your company, which allows you to get to know the amazing people representing your business and handling your mail.

For those who need desks, whether it’s a few times a week, a one-off pay as you go, or full time, we have created a range of flexible packages to suit everyone’s needs and budgets with the ability to get more space as your business grows. From Hot-desking to private offices, you will have some of the most generously sized desks in Melbourne, no sardine stacking here! You will have all the room you need for multiple screens and to stretch your legs whilst sitting on quality custom designed chairs for optimum comfort!

Our in-house IT support is another outstanding feature, which is heavily discounted, so much that we often see people from other spaces coming in for IT support and Test & Tagging for their devices.

It may be hard to work with those city views!

Our Spaces

We have a range of bespoke serviced meeting rooms. From 4-person rooms to boardrooms that accommodate up to 20 of your guests, they’re fully AV- equipped with all the facilities you need to run your meeting or workshop. Best of all, you receive complementary bottomless teas and coffees!

When booking one of our suave and beautifully decorated meeting rooms, you can be assured you will feel well looked after. Members also have access to free un-serviced meeting rooms, perfect for team meetings and discussions. As a member you will also receive discounts on our event spaces that are sure to impress your guests; with lush greenery and a cosy industrial feel spectacularly back-dropped with penthouse views, completed with an in house barista.

Here at The Cluster you are always welcome! We strive to create a positive, inspiring space where you look forward to visiting each day.