Warhol-style graphic of 4 images of webcams

By Laurie Kovens and Marvice Marcus

  • Have your screen at a level that creates a horizontal line between your gaze and speaker’s face, which makes it easier to register microexpressions and nonverbals. Make sure your head and the top of your shoulders are visible to the meeting attendees.
  • TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS! GET UP AND MOVE YOUR BODY. A quick visit to the front porch disrupts the work monotony. Start laundry, make a cup of tea, stretch—anything other than sitting at your computer workstation.
  • Create an “authoritative presence”:
    • To create the illusion of eye contact, look frequently at your camera, not just at the screen.
    • Find a location where your background is simple and professional, and have a consistent place.
    • Avoid, or at least reduce, participating in Zoom meetings from your bed.
    • Establish routines and try to be spontaneous. While structure can be useful, mix up your activities. Work during the day should be different from work during the night or the weekend.
  • Turn off other apps and notifications, and close other windows. This will help eliminate some of the lag, improve your internet bandwidth, and limit risk of buffering and “freezing.”
    • Minimize distractions! This contributes a great deal to fatigue (cognitive strain/load).
  • If possible, invest in a comfortable chair, one that allows you to sit for longer periods of time.
    • Take a few minutes to get comfortable in your chair and make adjustments.
  • Log in a few minutes early and either use the waiting-room function or just mute your camera and video until you are ready to start your meetings.
  • You may want to have “thinking putty” or a stress ball, something unobtrusive to keep you physically grounded.
  • Notice the space between you and your screen. Look around you to ground in your own space.
  • Vary your types of communication outside of meetings. Consider using the phone, for example.
  • Try not to look at the screen for long stretches of time. Quickly glance away. Track your surroundings.
  • Purchase blue-light glasses.

Laurie Kovens is a licensed clinical social worker with the Duke Personal Assistance Service. Marvice Marcus is director of training programs and assistant director of CAPS.