The Truth about what Happens to Your Brain on Zoom Meetings

Some traditions are powerful, even in their simplicity.


This weekend we celebrated Memorial Day, an annual favorite holiday of mine, as our tradition is to celebrate it with extended family at the beach.


Staring at the ocean, the soft, rhythmic roar of the waves is almost hypnotic, allowing me to step out of autopilot from the daily rat race, and most importantly, get grounded. It gives me the space to:


  • Give thanks and honor all those who have served our country, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice, so that I can have the freedom and security to pursue my dreams
  • Check my ego at the door, reminding me how small I am in the grand scheme of the universe
  • Take stock of all my blessings, such as a fulfilling career, good health, and a loving family
  • Sit with my thoughts and get back in sync with my goals, values, and what matters most in life.


This last one is particularly important, as we don’t tend to realize how easy it is to get out of synchrony with ourselves and others when our brains are going in too many directions at once. This makes it really hard to form and feel a connection with the very people we’re communicating with in the moment.


Nowhere is this more evident than in the perpetual sense of disconnect we still commonly feel when meeting others in daily video conferences.


But why does that happen?


That’s exactly the mystery we sought to unravel this week on the Speaking to Influence podcast with neurophysiologist and psychiatrist Dr. Jennie Byrne of Constellation PLLC.



If you have theories about why we think, feel and behave the way we do (for better and – *ahem* – for worse) on video calls, Dr. Jennie pulls back the curtain to our brain’s behavior and explains once and for all why it happens, why you can forgive yourself for a lot of your less-than-optimal reflexes and preferences, and how to make the experience BETTER for everyone.


Want a sneak preview? We explored:


  • The real neuroscience of “Zoom fatigue,” (hint: it’s related to our caveman brain’s need to escape hungry lions)
  • How to have more successful virtual meetings (hint: it's about making our caveman brain feel safe)
  • How synchrony plays an essential role in creating the feeling of being connected with other people, and how to strengthen that connection
  • How to make virtual encounters feel more like being in person
  • How to leverage the uniquely equalizing features of video meetings to encourage more even participation and ensure everyone’s voice is heard, regardless of role or position


And so much more!


Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.


And in case you didn’t have the chance to do it yesterday, don’t forget take a moment for yourself to get grounded again, take stock, and give thanks for all you have in your life too.


Better yet, if you can, thank a veteran or first responder directly.


On that note, for all of you who are or were military service members or first responders and related roles, a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU!