More Lessons Learned From Another Year On Zoom

About a year ago, I shared some best practices based on research and experience for long online, sessions.

Now, a year later, we’ve discovered a few more best practices that don’t seem to be common practice yet.

The video best practices.

Keeping your video on is still a good idea. We need to see each other and read the room ,and it’s okay to ask for people to have their camera on. But, give them permission to not stare at the camera.

Three big reasons for this practice:

  • If we’re investing all of our energy in looking engaged, we’re rarely as engaged as we can be.
  • Many of us think better whilst looking off into space or out the window.
  • People often capture the meeting content on another monitor, so their camera is positioned in a different location.
  • Recommendation: consider turning off “self view” so you’re not preoccupied with your own appearance. This also cuts down on Zoom fatigue.

Allow for humanness.

Get physical. Give people permission to stand and stretch when necessary. As you watch a video, suggest that people stand up and move around while watching.

I am still an advocate of frequent and long breaks. You want to break before people start thinking, “Jeez, when’s the next break?” Zoom fatigue is tough to shake once it sets in. Also, a longer break (10-15 minutes) allows people to take care of email and reduces the temptation to multi-task while in the meeting.

Recommendation: I’ve started to combine “homework” tasks with a break and give people freedom on how to use their time. For example, I’ll suggest something like:

“Over the next 20 minutes, read this passage, come up with one takeaway and two discussion questions, and take a break. You may do that in any order, and take as much or as little time as needed for each activity. I’ll see you back here in 20 minutes.”

I think it is wise to allot for activities that might take some people 3 minutes and other people 15 to give everyone space to interact with content on their terms.

Allow for realness.

Please continue to keep being “real” during virtual meetings, especially if people are working from home. Psychologically, the more we hide, the less we inspire trust. Have a background that reflects who you are and is professionally appropriate. Kids and pets may show up if you’re working from home. No need for a show and tell, but let’s not start to button up too much. Some organizations are tightening up, and it’s not good. The intention to keep things professional and productive is good. But the impact is not.

Those are a few shifts I’ve made since the last time I wrote about long remote meetings. Have you made any?

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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