Best Practices to Avoid Virtual Meeting Overload and Fatigue

September 2, 2020

Reduce the Time You Spend in Meetings

The most obvious place to start is with the meetings themselves. You can reduce the time you and your team spend in meetings by following a few strategic guidelines: 

  • Only hold essential meetings. If the issue can be handled by chat or email, do it that way and disseminate the results to the wider team. 
  • Format your meetings to be short and succinct, with an agenda consisting of two or three salient action items. 
  • Include only the people necessary to the planned discussion. Again, use email to disseminate short conclusions and summarize decisions made to others. 
  • Provide a way to record the minutes for the meeting through technology or a separate individual. 
  • Finally, set hard-and-fast rules about meeting length. If a meeting is scheduled to last 30 minutes, it should be finished at 30 minutes and 1 second. No exceptions. 

Schedule Strictly Meeting-Free Time Periods

Block time in your daily schedule to be meeting-free so you can ensure that you can answer emails, complete projects, and meet other important objectives and deadlines. his can relieve some of the stress that comes with feeling that there isn’t enough time in the day to complete these tasks.

When You Do Need to Have Virtual Meetings

Avoid multitasking

  • It’s easy to think that you can use the opportunity to do more in less time, but research shows that trying to do multiple things at once cuts into performance and causes stress when you miss points that were covered in the meeting.

Build in breaks

  • Take mini-breaks from video during longer calls by minimizing the window, moving it to behind your open applications, or just looking away from your computer completely for a few seconds now and then. If you are on an hourlong video call, tell participants it’s OK to turn off their cameras for parts of the call. Using visual breaks is important because we need to refocus our brains and rest our eyes as we get fatigued.

Reduce on-screen stimuli

  • Research shows that when you’re on video, you tend to spend the most time gazing at your own face. This can be easily avoided by turning off your video or agreeing as a group to have everyone who is not talking turn off their video.

 Switch to phone calls or email

  • Check your calendar for the next few days to see if there are any virtual meetings you can handle via email or phone call. If you have an upcoming one-on-one meeting, ask the person to switch to a phone call or suggest picking up the conversation later so you can both recharge. Try saying something like, “I’d love a break from video calls. Do you mind if we do this over the phone?” The other person most likely will be relieved by the switch as well.

Have a Daily Huddle and a Weekly All-Hands Staff Meeting

Not all meetings are bad. In fact, regularly scheduled meetings can help align your team and reduce other unnecessary meetings. Start the day with a daily huddle, keep it short ( 15-20 minutes), set priorities for the day, and make sure that work is not being duplicated by multiple team members. Weekly all-hands staff meetings should be no more than 30 minutes, and they allow the whole team to get updates on projects and goals, readjust team priorities, and remain connected as a team.

Additional Suggestions

  • Set up Webex Office Hours for your team members so they know you are available for one-on-one meetings during a specific time period each week. If they want to meet to discuss projects or need your input, they can contact you. This can cut down on unnecessary meetings or avoid schedule conflicts when there are topics that need to be discussed.
  • Use Webex Teams Hybrid Call Service so your team can call you using your office phone number to have quick discussions that will help cut down on unnecessary virtual meetings.
  • See the Center for Information Technology Services webpage at for instructions on how to use Webex technology.
  • The above informational items are suggestions, and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for individuals or teams. Use these suggestions to start the thought process to determine what will work best for you and your team.