Zoom fatigue

A dozen faces stare at you. You can see yourself in the corner. The conversation gets going. You say hi… at the exact same time as six others. The screen freezes for a split. Audio jumps. People look confused. Someone says something and someone else cuts them off. They both apologize at the same time. A cat meows.

This is the future. This is now. Do you want to zoom this weekend?

I don’t know about you but I am feeling this Zoom fatigue thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that we’re seeing friends more regularly and in bigger groups. We even attended a bris last Sunday. I’ve never attended a bris before.

But too much tech takes its toll.

video conference fatigue is real

Insead professor, Gianpiero Petriglieri, explains why video chat takes it toll on us.

“Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally.”

Video chats mean we need to work harder to process facial expressions. Tone of voice and body language require more attention on tiny video screens, and this consumes energy. We’re living headshots. Or perhaps, we are totally distracted and checking email while we are supposed to be listening intently to our friend’s creative culinary use of the leftovers in the fridge.

Back to Gianpiero again, for this humdinger:

“It’s easier being in each other’s presence, or in each other’s absence, than in the constant presence of each other’s absence.”

I mean, wow, right?

This got me thinking and was the inspiration for me to spend ten days writing out our process for creating digital training. I ended up writing so much (6,000 words) that I turned it into a mini-eBook. We’re in the digital age now, and some of us (probably not you, but you know the companies I’m referring to) were dragged here, kicking and screaming.

Education has been upended. Homeschooling is no longer an option and pop-up schools are abounding. College students are realizing that the thousands they pay in tuition is looking like a rip-off when the lectures are online (pushed) and better ones can be found by Googling something (pulled). Ok, maybe it’s not the college students realizing this, but their parents. But the value proposition of a traditional college education is becoming clearer: it’s about the social connections and face-to-face interactions. The knowledge already exists out there, and costs way less to consume than you have to pay in school.

So my goal in the coming months is to help companies embrace this new reality and create training that really works. There is no excuse anymore for half-assing digital training, when this is all we have. You can’t just rely on a 150-person webinar and think you’ve don

You need a strategy. You need exceptional instructional design to create a blended approach (who wants Zoom fatigue?). Your culture and your way of doing business matters. Your training should too.

Till next time, stay safe.


P.S. if you want to help me on this mission, please share this eBook with anyone you know is responsible for talent or learning development. There is a ton of good stuff in there to help them and their teams create truly remarkable training.


Very excited to see that the article on our Curious Lion process for creating digital training had the most clicks (almost double the next best).


Bullshit Jobs

In 2018, David Graeber wrote a book called Bullshit Jobs that has become a bit of a lightning rod for the discussion around what constitutes “essential” vs “non-essential” work. The book is not about this distinction, but about “a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence.”

I’ve had jobs like this. Perhaps you know someone who has too?

Are these jobs essential? I think a lot of companies are realizing they really aren’t.

Anyway, my friend Paul Millerd created this excellent companion presentation for reading the book.

Chilled Cows

I’ve had this YouTube radio station (yeah, that’s a thing now) playing on my computer for the past 3 days. It’s a live stream of “lofi hip hop beats”, but if any of those words give you pause, give it a try. It’s legit, getting-in-the-zone, work music. ?


I’m so proud of this collaboration between PagerDuty and Curious Lion. Phylicia Jones (PJ) is a talent development rockstar and the series she came up with for us to collaborate on is so real. The final two posts in the series are out.

  1. Confessions from a Talent Development Professional – Part 2
    1. In part 2, we discuss our first project together where we brought PJ to life as 14 different characters in an animated world.
  2. Confessions from a Talent Development Professional – Part 3
    1. In the final part, we discuss how we scaled budgets, ambitions, values and culture in a completely digital, remote way.

This email newsletter was originally shared with subscribers on May 3rd, 2020. To receive the latest newsletters twice a month, sign up below!


Never more true than in quarantine:

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” – Epictetus

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