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:
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.
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: