A Case for More Breaks in Virtual Briefing

Feb 07, 2022

We’ve all noticed how exhausting virtual meetings can be. Why is that? When we communicate face-to-face we have the opportunity to notice body language in addition to the words that people are saying. Studies over the years indicate that more than 50% of our meaning is transmitted through gestures, movement, facial expression, posture and eye contact. Because many or most of these signals are missing on a video call, our brains are working harder to process what we can see and hear to make up for what we’re missing. 
Woman sitting at her desk on the computer in a virtual executive briefing Woman sitting at her desk on the computer in a virtual executive briefing
When we’re on camera it can be stressful knowing we’re “on stage” and being watched. We may feel additional pressure to perform or behave in a different way than we would in a face-to-face briefing. We keep seeing our own face on the screen and trying to keep looking attentive and interested.

Let’s take a break every hour or so, especially in briefings! Even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes, it gives everyone time to look away, relax, move around a bit, and get ready to restart. I like to ask everyone to show me with their hands, on camera “would you like 5 minutes or 10 minutes for a break?” It gets everybody to turn their cameras on and lets the customer feel like they’re given a choice. About a minute before the end of the break I’ll say, “Please turn your camera on when you’re back from break, so I’ll know you’re back with us”. 

A break every hour will help participants come back to the briefing with a fresh perspective, ready to absorb the material and participate fully in the conversation.