Many of us have been working remotely for years. Conducting the bulk of our interactions via virtual meetings, either on Skype, Google Meet or Zoom. It’s an incredible way to connect. On a number of occasions I have met people in-person for the first time and couldn’t believe that we hadn’t actually physically met, so deep was our relationship. This is now a reality for much of the world!
However, as good as virtual meetings are, they can sometimes be taxing. At times I’ve found myself regularly spending five, six or even eight hours in virtual meetings in a day. I’d stagger away from the computer completely zapped!
Over time I have adapted. I’ve made micro tweaks and changes that make a big difference energy wise. Last week was very heavy on virtual meetings but I finished pretty fresh. I reflected on why. One thing I noticed was that I now spend a lot of time ‘looking away’ during a meeting – staring outside or at the ceiling – especially as I talked. I still glanced at the other people, but no longer held their gaze. Why is this?
I then read an article based on this. Boom! It turns out in physical meetings we only spend a fraction of our time actually looking at other people. We take notes, we look at the wall, we create space. Non-verbal queues are extremely important but they are also cognitively demanding for our brains. We get so much data from faces and try to ‘read’ the other person’s mind and emotions (it’s called Theory of Mind). In a virtual meeting we are trapped – staring at the person(s) and getting a flood of data. No wonder we feel exhausted!
So here’s my hack. Try to manage your direct face to face time during virtual meetings. This doesn’t mean turning off the camera or doing another task. Stay attentive – but take notes, ponder while looking away, mange your space (digitally). Actually just do the stuff you would in a physical interaction.
Or just remember this, it’s a meeting not a date!