The use of video conferencing services has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic, with national lockdowns making Zoom (and others like it) a fundamental part of everyday life. However, not everyone has developed an affinity for this new form of communication.
According to a new study from presentation specialist Buffalo 87, a phenomenon known as “Zoom anxiety” has become a serious problem for many. Defined as “a feeling of panic when asked to jump on a video call”, Zoom anxiety afflicts almost three quarters of people, for all manner of different reasons.
Chief among them is the potential that a technical glitch might occur that cannot be easily remedied, as cited by 83% of Zoom anxiety sufferers. In this context, users are concerned about holding up clients and colleagues, as well as revealing their incompetence.
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Other common factors include the inability to read body language effectively (67%), the feeling you haven’t been heard (56%), insufficient time to prepare appearance (41%) and concerns about the unprofessional nature of the background (34%).
While most of us have experienced a sense of trepidation ahead of a conference call, this writer included, many are able to master those feelings in a way that at least allows them to function while working from home.
For some people, however, the prospect of a video call can occasion a deep feeling of dread, especially if required to present. Combined with other stressors linked with the pandemic, lockdown and job insecurity, Zoom anxiety can prove debilitating in these circumstances.
“Of course, 2020 hasn’t been short on anxiety, and we’ve all had a lot to deal with,” noted James Robinson, Marketing Manager at Buffalo 7. “However, with a huge 73% of respondents saying they’ve struggled with Zoom anxiety at some point this year, it’s clear that for many video calls bring their own set of challenges.”
In a bid to assist Zoom users that feel unnatural or awkward when asked to speak on camera, the firm has come up with the following tips:
Ask if this call is really necessary. It may be easier to add notes onto a shared doc, for example. Video calls may not always be the most efficient option.
Ask your boss if cameras are required on every call. If they are, try putting your camera on a side angle not face-on - you’ll focus less on yourself.
Allow recharge time
Speak to others about only allowing a set amount of calls a day. Can there be a limit? If not, make sure there’s a set time between calls to recharge.
Never drop anyone on a call without telling them in advance. If people have time to prepare, they’ll be more organised and less anxious.
Communicate! Talk to bosses, talk to teams - if there’s an issue, you never know who else is facing it too. Encourage conversations. Ask your boss for a private chat.
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Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.