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If I Have to Do One More Virtual Meeting...

Doing Virtual Work Is Tough.

It’s 11:00 am, and you’ve already been in three meetings. But they are virtual (insert huge sigh). We’ve all had the virtual meetings via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, or some other platform, that seemed, at first, such a nice, refreshing, option at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was enjoyable to know that we had options to continue to produce our work from home. Everything was moving along just fine until one day you noticed that you felt more tired than normal and from when you actually went into a physical location. It had hit, Zoom or screen fatigue. It is real.

As a professor and content creator, I’ve noticed that it isn’t the optimal way to teach. Colleagues confirm it, too. We are all just trying to make it through our work day as good soldiers. Our students are, too. But, what do you do when you’re trying to teach via Zoom and to an in-person classroom or get an idea or plan across to co-workers in a virtual meeting? Let me tell you, it’s tough. What can be done to make things better? I’ve given it some considerable thought, and here are a few things that just may help:

· Don’t just talk. Have something interactive for your attendees to do.

· Include videos. Everyone likes visuals. They tend to grab a little more attention than those stale and static presentations.

· Swank up your presentations. Make them more visually appealing. No one wants to watch a PowerPoint presentation with a simple, flat white background and black letters. Trust me

No one does.

· Use an active presentation that moves and flows. Prezi is a good example. The learning curve is a little steeper. But, once you get it down, it’s a great alternative.

· Show and let them tell. Share projects that they have to complete. Switch it up. Let them present and talk for awhile.

· Show your face. It’s hard to have reasonable communication when attendees can’t see each other’s’ eyes, mouth and a part of the body. A large percentage of our communication is shared through body language, gestures and facial expressions.

· Talk back. When someone asks a question or is attempting to start a conversation, get i involved (drops tight-lipped emoji right here. Ugh). It’s hard enough. Do your part to make it more engaging. The crickets should never be heard singing.

· Dress better. Yes, I said it. Put on decent clothing. I know, I know, I know. You’re home, all comfy in your casual clothes or pjs and slippers. However, if you get up, shower, comb your hair and put on nice clothes (they don’t have to be fancy), it will make you feel better. It will

prepare you to be involved.

· Don’t come in late or dip out early. We all want to, and sometimes we must. Arrive early or on time. If you don’t have to leave, stay. It’s difficult enough for the person who is conducting the meeting to hear that little exit ding indicating you’re not sticking around.

· Smile. Who doesn’t like to see a friendly face every now and then?

Finally, after a certain point, shut down your computer. End the work day. Don’t extend it into your normal, at-home, personal time. It will help to break the day into normal parts and will give you a sense of not having worked all day in a space that is normally reserved for you, family and friends to connect. Go do that.

We are all pulling for us to be post-Covid19 free, actually we are yearning for it. And, it will happen. In the meantime, we’ve got to work, meet, train and share ideas to keep our organizations running—even it is virtual. Hopefully these tips will help make it easier.

Pro tip: Once the virtual meeting ends, don’t go right back to work. Get up and take a break. Get a drink, a snack or a cup of coffee or tea. Go outside and breathe for a few moments. Use it as a quick rejuvenation time. It will help you power through the remainder of you work day.

Until next time,

Dr. Pat.

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