There’s no such thing as Zoom Fatigue

It’s called “shitty meeting fatigue”.
Or, “shitty conversation design”.
Or, “shitty facilitation skills”.
Or, “what happens when we all tolerate distraction and lack of presence”.
The problem with the understandably growing sentiment that “we need to get back to meeting in person”…

… or, “we can’t tolerate anymore online meetings”…
is that it’s largely coming from professionals who likely haven’t seen, heard, or felt, the best of what’s possible, in online meetings.

As a result, companies, industry conferences, and communities of all types will miss the entire wave of innovation that has made it possible to both get really good work done (even in large groups), and in a way that actually elevates well-being.

Here’s a microscopic sample of what we’ve seen at xchange:

  • Several months into the pandemic, Clarke Industries wanted to host a 60 person design sprint. Employees from across the country generated 300+ ideas, synthesized into 5 unique prototypes, in less than four hours. They reported a higher inclusivity of voices, higher engagement, and higher quality output than many prior in-person group collaborations.
  • When Google brought in xchange Conscious Leadership training (online), they reported participant engagement and stickiness of training concepts that far exceeded what they’ve experienced in-person or online.
  • 12,000+ consultants, coaches, trainers and leaders have attended our live, experiential workshops on Conscious Facilitation, since the pandemic began. The average rating of 9.7/10, and the top two sentiments 1. speed and 2. depth, of human connection… were beyond what many of us experienced, when in-person.
  • When Stanford University Hospital’s clinical research group invited us to experientially train on Conscious Facilitation & Leadership, not only did the online training receive a 9.6/10 rating, but one participant stated, “the way we engaged each other, created an intimacy that was surprising, even beyond many in-person gatherings.”
  • While training the chapter chairs for Women Presidents Organization over the last two years, we witnessed an extraordinary, inspiring response to the pandemic. Having led essentially none of their pre-pandemic chapter gatherings online, the organization pivoted at lightning speed, to support their members online, leveraging Conscious Facilitation. They didn’t fold, they didn’t give up, even with so many suggesting there’s no way these leaders will convert to meet online.

So, if digital convenings aren’t at fault for all the “fatigue” we feel after two years, what is?
It’s simple, but not necessarily easy.

It’s understanding that the way we initiate, design, and facilitate, can make, or break, any online gathering.
When we initiate a gathering, what are the first questions we ask?
What set of holistic outcomes will matter most?
What models and frameworks will we use to design and guide the group interactions?
How will the invitation be so clear and compelling, that the right folks show up, with the right expectations on engagement and presence?

When we design a gathering, what are the first questions we ask?
What content is important to share with this group?
What content should not take up their time while together, but rather be recorded, pre-distributed, or saved for the group to consume at another time?

What questions will matter most?

  • Do we need questions that connect the group to their individual or shared purpose?
  • Do we need questions that unlock learning around a key challenge or opportunity?
  • Do we need questions that study our past, learn from our successes, or leverage our strengths?
  • Do we need questions that invite new images and possibilities for the future?
  • Do we need questions that design the pathways towards the future we most want?
  • Do we need questions that inspire self-directed action and commitment?

What conversational choreographies does this gathering call for?
Is there a configuration of shifting the larger group in and out of smaller groups, that best serves, depending on the outputs we want?
Would intimate pairs serve to unlock a sense of safety, intimacy, and a chance to talk through our thinking around a critical topic?
What smaller groups better serve, where ideas, stories or examples are dissected, studied and synthesized for the larger group to learn from?
Would we want to explore a “one conversation” experience, even with up to 100 participants, where we have one coherent conversation as a large group?
When we facilitate a gathering, what are the first questions we ask?
Is the facilitator grounded, present, self-regulated to the extent that their energy will invite psychological safety for others?
Is the facilitator intimate with the overall meeting and conversation design, so that they can navigate and orchestrate between reflection, conversation, synthesis, and forward movement of the group?
Is the facilitator curious, and skilled enough to invite diverse voices into the conversation?

Is the facilitator prepared to hold the polarities that naturally arise when we invite collective intelligence to learn, connect and explore important topics together?
And does the facilitator have a partner, team, or competency with all the technical nuances that can make group convenings seamless, even transformational?

This is why we are all here… at xchange.
As Conscious Facilitators.

To be islands of sanity, in a sea of digital meeting chaos.

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