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Is Zoom Zapping Your Energy?

Do you find leading Zoom meetings exhausting? Most people do. Social scientists say there are powerful physiological reasons why platforms like Zoom and Webex can leave people much more worn out than in-person presentations.

When you are the presenter, your energy is mirrored by the audience. If you want them to feel uplifted and enthused, you have to bring that energy to the virtual space and keep it up.

After much trial and error in leading large virtual trainings almost every day, here is what works for me in minimizing Zoom energy drain — grouped under time, body and mind.

TIME

  • Keep virtual chats short. 90 minutes is the absolute max. Any longer qualifies as torture under the Geneva Convention.
  • Clear your calendar. On the day of a presentation, under-schedule and leave more time open than usual. Save your bandwidth.
  • Prepare everything the day before. Before you go to bed, have slides ready, props, cue cards, digital handouts saved on your computer where you can locate them, etc.
  • Get online early. Start the meeting 30 minutes before so you can solve tech issues without diminishing your energy with a panicked, last minute rush. Just knowing that everything is working OK removes worry.

BODY

  • Eat something. Your brain and body need fuel to remain energetic. Have a small or medium meal 60-90 minutes before showtime. Try not to eat right before you present as digestion requires energy.
  • No alcohol. My brain and mouth are better connected when I honor the no-drinks-the-night-before-presentation rule. The same applies to marijuana.
  • No sugar. One morning before a virtual presentation, I tried these delicious new energy bars that crashedmy energy so badly that the audience commented on it! Also: avoid chocolate which produces phlegm on your vocal cords and limits your tonal range.
  • Move your body. Do a morning workout if you have time, or if you just have one minute do jumping jacks, run in place or take a fast walk. Elevating your heart rate wakes your brain and gives you an energetic glow.

MIND

  • Breathe. Inhaling slowly and deeply helps calm nerves right before you go on-camera. A daily meditation practice helps all presenters too.
  • Focus. Turn off email and social media in the hour before you present to avoid reading something distracting. Consider putting your phone on airplane mode.
  • Use your own name in self-talk. Brain scientists suggest referring to yourself positively in third person by name. It flips a switch in your brain that gives you confidence which will be interpreted as energy. Tina Fey might say to herself, “Tina Fey, you are going to be a super Golden Globes host!” It may sound nuts but it works!