• Kari Lynn Larsen

zoom zombies & virtual meeting wellness


Happy Wellness Wednesday!


By Dr. Kim at the Byte-Size Wellness Academy


Since the COVID-19 pandemic drove millions of employees to home-based offices, the number ofvirtual meetings and video conference calls have skyrocketed. And as the remote workforce continues to grow, so too does the amount of time we’re all spending on virtual platforms: Between Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams, more than 600 million participants are sitting in online meetings and events every day. Let’s face it: The last thing any planner wants is an audience that’s filled with dread when your calendar invite pops into their inbox. Even worse is seeing a gallery of Zoom Zombies staring back at you during your event. Here’s what to look out for and how to 'cure' Zoom zombie syndrome.

You might create Zoom Zombies if...

  • You’re scheduling back-to-back sessions or ones that are longer than 45 minutes

  • Presenters have too many slides jammed with wall-to-wall text

  • Events don’t encourage social networking and engagement like chats, live polling, Q&As, roundtables and breakout rooms

  • You’re not scheduling enough breaks during meeting day

  • Breaks away from the computer are way too short and meeting days are too long


You know your attendees have become Zoom Zombies when…

  • You notice that too many participants have turned off their cameras

  • You can see people doing things off-camera like checking their phones

  • Attendees don’t seem to be paying attention -- their gaze is wandering off-screen

  • They’re multi-tasking -- you can hear them typing frantically or shuffling papers

Snap attendees out of their zoned-out funk with these six tricks:


1. Keep sessions short. Stick to a 30-minute schedule so people’s attention doesn’t taper off and follow a tight agenda. Encourage follow-up discussions through email to power through the main objectives on your to-do list. Make breakout sessions that are longer than 45 minutes interactive and dynamic by adding new learning activities every 10 minutes.


2. Give everyone’s eyes a break. During video conference calls, participants may feel they need to constantly be ‘on’, staring intently at the screen no matter how long the meeting lasts. Instead, try this: For every 20 minutes everyone’s glued to the computer screen, encourage them to look at something else 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This helps eyes re-adjust and recover.


3. Incorporate stretch and movement breaks. Restore energy by getting everyone out of their chairs between breakout sessions and at least once during longer meetings to stretch, do some shoulder rolls, march in place and take 10 deep cleansing breaths.






4. Schedule walk-and-talk meetings. Instead of tethering participants at smaller meetings to their desks, encourage the team to log in to the video conference with their smartphones and headsets – and then head outside for the meeting. Studies show that a brisk 15-minute walk immediately produces endorphins – the ‘feel good’ chemical – and promotes creativity and problem-solving through movement.


5. Experiment with audio-only sessions. Ask participants to turn off their cameras, and treat the event as an experiential podcast! Studies show that turning off one sensory path – in this case vision – helps other senses kick into overdrive. Let your team listen to each other and participate without that scary gallery view of each other.


6. Add digital detox breaks. If your day is peppered with Zoom encounters, schedule a time to turn everything – yes, everything! – off so participants can welcome stillness and silence for at least 15 minutes. Encourage attendees to use this time to breathe deeply, take a short walk around the block, or sip a cup of herbal tea.



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