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Video Meeting Anxiety – What Is It and How to Overcome It

One of the side effects of working from home is video meeting anxiety. For some people, face-to-face calls for work can feel stressful, and remote employees who have video meetings throughout the day can quickly become fatigued.

The problem is, this virtual meeting burnout can make it harder to regain focus once the meeting is over, which inhibits productivity. It can also create unexpected challenges for new employees and newly remote employees who are not used to spending a lot of time in front of a webcam.

If your employees are experiencing video meeting anxiety, it’s time to make some changes to your company’s work-from-wherever protocols. Let’s look at what video meeting anxiety is and what you can do to overcome it.

What Is Video Meeting Anxiety?

Video meeting anxiety is when someone experiences overwhelming pressure while engaging with co-workers or clients during a video call. It can range from a sense of awkwardness or discomfort when the webcam is on to a virtual form of social anxiety – which is when an individual feels dread or excess fear surrounding everyday social interactions.

Video meeting anxiety can manifest in several ways, with a person experiencing one or several of the following psychological symptoms:

  • Intense worry over how others perceive you or a fear of being judged
  • Excessive self-consciousness and concern over your appearance, backdrop, or knowing when to speak up
  • Feeling like everyone is staring at you even though they’re not
  • A sense of stage fright when it’s your turn to speak
  • Worry over technical issues during a video call

It can also lead to physical symptoms, including:

  • Upset stomach
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tense muscles

If you have experienced some of the telltale signs of video meeting anxiety, you’re not alone. It’s more prevalent than most people realize.

How Common Is It?

About 7 percent of Americans suffer from social anxiety, so it’s not that surprising that at least a small chunk of work-from-home adults would experience some anxiety when interacting online. However, the numbers for virtual anxiety are pretty shocking.

According to a 2020 study, of 18 to 24-year-olds, 64 percent report feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness, and anxiety surrounding virtual work calls. Of all adults working remotely, nearly half say they feel fatigued as a result of too many video meetings.

Over time, this can lead to a range of social and emotional problems that can make working from home very unpleasant, including feeling frustrated and out of the loop, stress before meetings, and a drop in productivity before the meeting starts.

How to Help Employees Avoid Webcam Stress

With many organizations shifting to a work-from-wherever model, video meeting anxiety is something employers should address now rather than later. As this is a relatively new work-wellness concern, many employees may hesitate to speak up and voice their struggles with video calls, so don’t assume everyone is okay with your current video meeting schedule.

There are several things you can do to reduce the risk of stress and anxiety from video conferencing and to improve the experience for your employees.

  • Keep virtual work meetings small. Video meetings are better suited to one-on-one conversations or for small group meetings of three to five individuals. If you are hosting a larger meeting, give participants the option to turn their camera off while the presenter speaks.
  • Consider making webcams optional, in general. This may not work for all meetings, but it’s something meeting hosts should keep in mind. Feeling like others are watching you or having to see your own image – which can cause mirror anxiety – can trigger video meeting anxiety.
  • For training and onboarding meetings, let employees know that having their camera on and participation is optional. Another option is to create training videos they can view on their own time.
  • Record your meetings for employees to watch later. This will allow individuals who are feeling anxious or stressed before a meeting to pass on the event and focus on work instead. Then, they can watch the meeting later.
  • Use a video meeting platform that offers a variety of engagement tools such as live chat and quick polls. These features give employees an alternative way to interact if they aren’t comfortable speaking on camera.
  • Keep meetings short or break up longer meetings into chunks. One of the causes of anxiety is feeling trapped – you have to stay within the frame of your webcam during the meeting. So, the more you allow people to move around or leave their webcam space, the less stress they may experience.

Use High-Quality Video Meeting Software for Less Stressful Virtual Work Meetings

Video meeting anxiety is a real issue, and it’s something every company with remote employees should work to resolve. Unchecked, it can leave employees feeling frustrated and fatigued. It can also dampen productivity.

To help your remote teams, make video meeting participation flexible and let your employees choose how to manage their webcam time. This autonomy puts the control in their hands.

And, to ensure they’re having the best experience possible, make sure you’re using high-quality video conferencing software. Your platform should have robust alternative engagement features, easy-to-use video recording, and other tools that enable a smooth, stress-free video call.

Intermedia AnyMeeting offers all this and more. Sign up for a trial and see the difference the right software can make for your employees.

About Darcy Mekis