That video conferencing experienced a boom in the early days of COVID-19 wasn't much of a surprise to anyone. Video technology is a visual bridge, allowing us to see our colleagues and loved ones face-to-face at a time when many of us are stuck at home.

At first, all of the time spent in front of the camera was novel, even fun. It made the transition from office or classroom to home much easier. With video, teams could pick up where they left off, collaborating more efficiently and continuing to engage fully in discussions. But after months of back-to-back video conferences, many of us are experiencing video fatigue . You (like many others) may find yourself dreading that video call you once enjoyed.

A number of factors contribute to video fatigue. There's the added pressure and feeling of being "watched" when you're on video. When everyone is prominently displayed on a screen, people can feel more self-conscious about how they look, what they say and what they do. Many of us are already under more stress than usual as we deal with the fallout from the pandemic. The added pressure of an on-screen presence can increase that anxiety.

Also, since our view of other meeting attendees is often limited to shoulders and above, we miss body language cues. Our brains need to focus more on facial expressions and tone of voice in order to infer what people are thinking and feeling. The difficulty of this effort multiplies when several people appear on screen (Brady Bunch-style) in grid view. Last, technical glitches such as audio delays and frozen screens can frustrate attendees and make it harder to communicate effectively.

Video conferencing has also become a means of communication for more than just work. Many of us are relying on video to stay in touch with friends and go to school. As a result, we're spending both work and personal time on camera, and these hours add up fast. It's no wonder people have come to find video conferences draining.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce video fatigue, while still interacting with your colleagues and getting your work done. The five tips below will help you recharge your video conferencing batteries.

Five tips to combat video conferencing fatigue

1. Ask yourself if video is really necessary.

Video conferencing technology has definite benefits. It allows us to maintain a more personal connection with attendees and keeps people engaged. However, sometimes it's just not necessary. If you're scheduling a meeting, think about how important it is to see the other participants. Client meetings and brainstorming sessions are often better with video, but routine check-ins and status updates may be just as effective with the camera turned off.

2. Be selective about invites.

The more people on a video call, the more tiring it can be. There are more faces to watch (and interpret) and it becomes difficult to constantly adjust your attention from one person to another. Staying focused becomes a challenge. When scheduling video conferences, carefully review the invite list. Divide participants into two lists: required and optional. While this advice also applies to audio calls, it's even more crucial to follow when scheduling a video conference. Limit attendees to only those who need to be there.

3. Use a reliable and secure video conferencing provider.

A reliable video conferencing solution reduces worry about potential technical issues. A powerful solution also includes additional features that make video calls more productive and engaging. For example, the ability to grant centerstage to a presenter makes it easier for everyone to focus, while a whiteboard feature allows attendees to easily share ideas in real time. Some providers include persistent chat logs and file sharing, so you can keep track of important decisions and share information.

4. Schedule breaks between video conference calls.

With remote work continuing for many, video conferences aren't going away. Do yourself a favor by spacing them throughout your day. A short break in between calls gives you time to stretch, grab a snack and freshen up if you're feeling drained. A walk outside can also do wonders. It will help you to refocus and gear up for the next call.

5. Leverage other unified communications technology when appropriate.

Video certainly has its purpose. But other unified communications technologies produce the same level of collaboration and engagement without the need for participants to be camera-ready. Desktop sharing, for example, enables attendees to work together and share progress and notes. Sometimes an individual or group chat is all that's needed to get answers to questions. Persistent collaborative workspaces are another unified communications tool that allows team members to work together efficiently and effectively. Colleagues can share files, chat and exchange ideas in real time. You can even create and assign tasks to people, making it easy to track progress on projects and to stay on top of your own to-do list.

No matter how much we love our jobs and our co-workers, the truth is sometimes we just don't want to be on screen. Remote work and video conferences will be part of our new normal, so take steps to keep them in check and you energized.

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