As I See It | Laura Hutyra | Director of Client Engagements

Fight Virtual Fatigue with These Tips

Are virtual meetings getting you down? Do you now have nightmares about internet connectivity and the mute/unmute button? Are you struggling to feel professional while juggling your work from home responsibilities? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are certainly not alone.

I think it’s safe to say that the novelty has worn off. The pressure to be warm, friendly and professional on a computer screen can be draining, especially with multiple—and sometimes back to back—virtual meetings.

If you missed it, I highly recommend that you read our Senior Associate, Barbara McColm’s Survival Tips for Working Virtually.

In addition, I share the following reminders on virtual meeting etiquette and best practices.
  1. Be mindful of your office space and think about your background. If you’re not back in the office and are challenged to find a professional background at home, select a virtual option that is simple and understated. Add your company’s logo or a photo from your actual office space but fight the temptation to address your colleagues from a fake beach unless it’s happy hour.
  2. It’s all about the lighting and angles. Check your lighting and camera angle for a clear and flattering picture. You can use stacked books to get your camera at face-level, with 2-5 feet between you and the computer.
  3.  Mute yourself. Adjust your settings to enter meetings muted and no one will notice connectivity issues or background noise you experience while logging on. Likewise, make it a habit to stay muted until you speak. It’s much less disruptive to take a moment to unmute than for everyone to hear what’s happening in your space.
  4. Remember you are on camera. Though we’ve all seen the funny viral videos and memes of unfortunate virtual meetings mishaps, we don’t want to become one. If you need to step away, turn off your camera. Otherwise, stay focused and on-task.
  5. Speak Up. Internet connectivity differences cause delays and challenge us to read cues without seeing body language. So, it’s more important than ever to speak clearly and be polite. Ensure others are finished speaking before you jump in and be courteous when you haven’t been directly addressed.
When facilitating a meeting, consider the following ways to keep everyone engaged:
  1. Foster connections. The faster you get people talking, the more engaged they will be. Dedicate time for a few minutes of socializing and introductions, and to ensure everyone speaks – prepare a question or two in advance. It can be helpful to call on people to answer.
  2. Keep it brief or take breaks. Long virtual meetings are hard on everyone. Go in with a few major objectives and set a follow up meeting rather than tackling everything at once. If things must be done in one session, plan on breaks for everyone.
  3. Be productive. Consider using breakout rooms for large groups. This can foster connections (above) or create a consent-style meeting, where small groups discuss items and “present” to the full group for feedback and consensus.
  4. Script Questions. If you’re presenting a new idea or concept, prepare a few basic Q&As for the group. Chances are you will answer a question someone has and prompt new ones.
  5. Read the room. Make it a priority to continually scan faces for reactions to your message. Keep an eye on the chat box for comments or questions. If you are unable to, ask another colleague (ahead of time) to help.
What am I missing? Do you have any other tips or ideas to keep us professional and fighting virtual fatigue?

One of the big questions our clients have asked this year is how to foster connections with donors with the challenges of Covid-19, including virtual meetings. If you’re interested in hearing more about this topic, please join us on Tuesday, November 10 for Major Gift Calls: Building Relationships and Soliciting Gifts During Covid-19 presented by Laura Hutyra, CFRE. Register here.


About the Author

Laura Hutyra, CFRE, applies her deep knowledge of and extensive experience in fundraising in her role working closely with M. Gale consultants to oversee the work of all client engagements and deliverables. Her expertise in communications helps clients implement consistent and mission-focused messages throughout fundraising engagements. Prior to joining M. Gale Laura held development position with All Saints’ Episcopal School of Fort Worth, Hill School, and the Fort Worth Zoo. A native of Fort Worth, Laura is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Fort Worth Metro chapter and is a member of Leadership Fort Worth’s Leadership Class of 2020. 

Have questions for Laura? Email her at