Avoid Zoom Drain – how to optimise your virtual communications without the video call overload

Business Insight

Zoomed out? You’re not the only one. You and your team are some of 190 million new users to the platform. This new means of communicating has been a lifeline for many experiencing business meeting challenges. But, like anything, too much of a good thing can lead to fatigue. It’s this fatigue that’s causing headaches for businesses all over the world.

So, how can you maintain rapport and quality communication streams, when people are feeling drained by video calls? Rachel Massey, communications expert at world leading negotiation, sales and communication specialists, Huthwaite International, advises businesses on how to avoid Zoom drain and optimise their virtual communications.

Our normal means of communication have been changed by circumstance, and as a result so has our attitude to technology. Zoom is the perfect example of this. As an employer or business manager, video conferencing tools are a means to an end. A necessity to ensure business as usual continues as much as possible. And so, it has become the go to communication tool for many.

At first, we all jumped on the Zoom hype. We imagined how a lockdown life would be entirely manageable due to the wonders of technology. Not only are we obliged to join video conference, after video conference with enthusiasm at work, it’s become a necessary evil amongst family and friendship circles too. And so - Zoom drain hits.

“A world where we spend 50% of our time staring at the fuzzy images of our networks has become less than appealing. This means that the interesting and genuinely useful Zoom calls you could be having with your colleagues and clients, are overshadowed by the overwhelming dread of ‘yet another Zoom call’.

“So, how can you create cut through when the means of communicating are so limited? On a very simplistic level, it could be as easy as stopping to think, ‘do I really need a Zoom for that?’. Yes, there are other forms of communication. The good old telephone call is still highly effective. But, in reality, to really re-engage people that have lost interest, it is going to take a little more work. This is where the importance of verbal behaviour comes into play.

“Firstly, many video calls get hijacked by the need of everybody in the room to prove their worth and have their say. To avoid this, you need a virtual meeting manager on your calls. Someone who focuses on managing the discussion rather than taking part in it, and is not afraid to politely dismiss contributions that are not relevant. The key here is to bring people into the conversation, so people sat on mute twiddling their thumbs are made to feel a part of the action.

“The second challenge is the classic misunderstanding. Yet, the importance of what we call clarification behaviours is often overlooked. Between them, the behaviours of Testing Understanding and Summarising should represent 10% of the total video conference behaviour, yet many groups sadly fail to reach anything like that level. The result: people end the meeting unsure about what has actually been agreed.

“Finally reacting behaviours form another important category when running effective virtual meetings, as they affect the climate of the meeting. These behaviours are the ones you use to indicate your support or disagreement for someone else’s idea or point of view - because they can potentially involve value judgements and contain emotional overtones, they need to be considered carefully within a meeting environment. People who have an unusually high or low reaction level present characteristic problems and how you deal with these high or low reactors is a whole communication skills in itself – we’ve all experienced talking faster or drying up I’m sure when dealing with a ‘low reactor’ or perhaps giving away too much information to fill the communication gap! “Making sure your video conferences count has never been more important. Over use of platforms such as Zoom, leads to disengaged clients, unmotivated teams and a lack in any real productivity. Instead, try to treat Zoom calls as you once treated face to face meetings – an opportunity to make a difference. Team this with the right verbal behaviour skills and you will see enthusiasm, productivity and engagement sky rocket as people thank you for quality Zoom calls over the endless quantity of video conferences.”

For more information on Huthwaite International and mastering sales, negotiation and communication skills, visit www.huthwaite.com