Guidance on video conferencing

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This is a page giving some advice and guidance on preventing video conferencing fatigue.


NeIC as a virtual organisation is using videoconferencing tools as an integral part of its daily working business.

The covid-19 pandemic and lock-down has increased the usage of videoconferencing tools such as Zoom within NeIC as well as worldwide. The term “Zoom fatigue” has been introduced to refer to the mental exhaustion associated with online video conferencing.


Here is some concrete advice and guidance on how we can prevent video conferencing fatigue:

  • Schedule shorter meetings, e.g., 45 minutes instead of 1 hour
  • Make sure to have a proper break between consecutive video meetings. A proper break is at least 10 minutes.
    • It is best practice to raise the organizer's awareness on the issue and ask for shortening the meeting if it is impossible to have a proper break.
  • Make sure your network and audio/video devices work fine before joining the meeting
    • Most of the videoconferencing tools allow testing the mic and speakers before joining the meeting
  • Make a habit of muting yourself by default while not talking.
    • Avoid generating unexpected sounds, e.g. tapping, during the meeting
      • Unnatural, unexpected and annoying sounds invoke a response in our brains and force us to concentrate on them. Sounds such as key tapping, swallowing, slurping coffee or squeaky chairs are captured and amplified in videoconferencing
  • See over the acoustics in your regular video conferencing spot(s).
    • Choose a place where you can close the door and the general sound level is low.

Contribute to cultivate the right conversation etiquette:

  • Even if the meeting is only online, still be there on time.
  • Mute your microphone after saying hello and use the 'raise hand' feature or text chat to interject or raise questions in group conversations
  • Articulate your speech clearly, avoid mumbling and turn on Closed captions to aid your comprehension.
  • Inform when you go Away from keyboard or when you leave early. You can do so on the chat if you don't want to interrupt.
  • It is recommendable to switch of the camera while you are eating, but you might want to explain why you do so.

There are some more things you can do if you are the host:

  • Prepare the meeting well in advance and print out necessary documents so you don't have to switch screens all the time.
  • Start the meeting with clearly stating your expectations on the conversation etiquette.
    • Remind people to mute themselves but also force mute them if necessary.
    • Encourage keeping the video on during the meeting, unless good reasons not to (personal reasons, network bandwidth)
    • Explain how you want them to speak up (using the raise hand functionality, waving in the video, shortly stating their own name, write in the chat...)
  • While not presenting make a real effort to look into the webcam to keep your participants motivation high.
  • Afterwards keep an eye on the proposed channel(s) (chat, participant list, video..).
    • Alternatively ask someone you make co-host to react and feedback and unmute participants if necessary.

More information

Some further background information regarding videoconferencing:

  • What determines how fatigued you become is based on what you are listening to.
    • Voices transmitted through the internet in real time are unedited and therefore crude to our ears.
    • Listening to a podcast interview is fine for most of us, while we feel drained after a video meeting, even if we didn’t contribute and were only listening.
  • There are technical limits to video chats. Conversations in an remote environment, e.g., household, bring background noises as well as echoes and reverberation due to room acoustics.
    • To make your home videoconferencing environment more accommodating. close the door. Consider keeping kids or pets out even if it cannot stop kids from interrupting.

Improving the quality of your video call experience relies on a community effort. As many of us won’t be going back into the office for some time, we all at NeIC should work to reduce Zoom fatigue and make calls less of a strain for everyone.