An illustration of a video call

Why Zoom meetings are so exhausting, according to a careers expert

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Now that working from home is the new normal for people up and down the country, Zoom meetings have become a part of everyday life. But why are video calls – particularly in a professional setting – so exhausting? We asked a careers expert to explain all.

In a world where we’ve found ourselves suddenly separated from our friends, family members and colleagues, Zoom has been our saving grace. 

From important work meetings to virtual pub quizzes, the video-calling platform has been there through it all.  The only problem? It’s bloody exhausting.

It’s a phenomenon which has become a topic of conversation among the team at Stylist. While, in reality, our Zoom calls should be no different than having a meeting in the office, there’s something about the medium that leaves us feeling completely zapped of energy. So why is this? 

Speaking on the latest episode of Working From Home with Stylist, career and presentation expert Russell Amerasekera explained why we might be finding Zoom calls more taxing than we’d expect.

“We’re used to connecting as human beings with energy,” he explains. “Predominantly, when we are in the same room as somebody or we’re close by, we’re transferring energy, and that’s the thing that connects us most – we feel a tremendous sense of reassurance when we have that. But the difficulty with [Zoom] is you don’t have that, so essentially we’re having to overcompensate.

“When you can see someone on the screen you’re not getting that same level of affirmation from them. So what do we do? We start to work harder.”

According to Amerasekera, this need to work harder manifests in a number of ways, all of which add up to make Zoom calls a particularly exhausting experience.

“We work harder with our voices, and that’s partly because we’re trying to convey more emotion through the voice,” he explains.

“We’re also having to observe more, because we’re trying to pick up those visual cues that are very easy to see when you’re in close proximity and the person is in the same room.

“All of that comes together to actually be incredibly, incredibly tiring for us as human beings.”

A woman on a Zoom call
The lack of physical reassurance we experience during Zoom calls makes us work harder with our voices and observations.

With all of this considered, it makes sense that we’re finding Zoom calls and meetings so exhausting – especially if you’re trying to hold complicated meetings or difficult conversations on the platform. So what can we do to make things a little bit easier for ourselves?

“When you say something, give that person the opportunity to respond and study their response,” he explains. “The thing with this kind of medium is you do need to give people time to respond because otherwise you’d be constantly talking over each other, so you need to give each other a little more space to do that.”

He continues: “Timing becomes really important. The ideal time to be on these calls is 30-45 minutes – no longer than 45 minutes – because that gives you the chance to be able to focus and concentrate: you can be present and you can give that person or your team your full attention.”

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that we’re all taking this time to learn more about the working from home process. If you’re finding it difficult to adapt, that’s OK – take this time to experiment and find out which methods work for you. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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