The poet Dylan Thomas’s last words were, supposedly: “I’ve just had 18 straight whiskies. I think that’s the record.”
Keep that in mind, as we shift gears to talk about Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom, and what he just admitted about Zoom before a virtual audience. (By the way, if you enjoy this article, I think you’ll really like my free ebook full of similar stories, called, Best So Far.)
Yuan’s words, thankfully, were not his last, like Thomas’s. But they did have a few things in common: numeric specificity, potential hyperbole — and in Yuan’s case, instant camaraderie.
Here’s the quote. It came in the context of a Zoom-like video call in which a Wall Street Journal editor asked Yuan if, despite being CEO of Zoom, he ever gets Zoom fatigue.
“I do!” Yuan replied eagerly. “I can tell you. Last April [one day], I had a total of 19 Zoom meetings! I’m so tired of that! I do not have any back to back meetings anymore. I think I feel much more comfortable.”
Now, I hope you don’t drink like Thomas, but I’m going to bet you might be just as sick of Zoom as Yuan is. (Although, 19 video calls in a single day seems excessive by almost any standard.)
When I think back to April 2020, however I can imagine why Yuan would have had so many Zoom meetings. This was barely two months into the pandemic, and Zoom, which had been designed for business users, was being overrun by new non-business consumers.
In a single month, the company’s user base grew from 10 million to 200 million. Heck, my daughter is still using it for school, since our town hasn’t gotten its act together and sent everyone back to the classroom full-time.
There were growing pains, to put it lightly.
Anyway, even if we’ve turned a corner regarding the pandemic, more people are going to be working remotely in the future, and it seems that Zoom calls are here to stay.
With that in mind, I have two resources for you to make them a little less taxing:
First, Stanford University researchers studied why Zoom calls seem more taxing than face-to-face conversations. They came up with four reasons:
- too much eye contact,
- too much mirroring yourself,
- a total lack of physical movement, and
- “a much higher cognitive load.”
Their solutions: Take Zoom out of full-screen, turn off your camera, stand back from your screen, and take “audio only breaks.”
Separately, I found my own solutions for a while, for example, putting go-to phrases on post-it notes around your computer so that you’ll feel less likely to say the wrong thing.
It worked for me, anyway. But, if all else fails, I suppose you could be like the CEO of Zoom, and simply announce you’re not going to do as many Zoom calls anymore.
(Don’t forget the free ebook, Best So Far: 12 Favorite Stories After 10+ Years of Writing Them.)