Why Remote Meetings Don’t Feel The Same

If you’ve taken a work or family meeting via video chat you know it doesn’t quite feel the same as speaking in person, and there are scientific reasons for this. Google UX researcher Zachary Yorke wrote a blog about the topic, and says the top reason video meetings feel different is because the so-called “talking stick” gets passed less often. He suggests helping others get their voice heard and reminding others to pass the stick in order to avoid this issue. Another issue with video meetings is that the social cues we usually rely on when speaking to someone don’t translate well. For example, when face-to-face with someone you can gauge their interest or how much they’re listening by how they’re sitting, or if they lean forward or widen their eyes a certain way. Yorke says to help with this you can minimize distractions in the room so that your eyes are focused on the people in the meeting. The last issue is that with video, sound travels differently than it does in person. Yorke explains, “We’re ingrained to avoid talking at the same time while minimizing silence between turns. A delay of five-tenths of a second—whether from laggy audio or fumbling for the unmute button—is more than double what we’re used to in-person.” That has an easy fix: just speak a little be slower in your next video meeting.