Limiting Zoom Fatigue and Implementing Breaks

Building in regular breaks, using engagement activities to shift gear, and offering asynchronous activities can help alleviate this issue. Read on for steps that can help you and your students to overcome Zoom fatigue.
by LSA Learning & Teaching Consultants

When teaching online, many instructors find their synchronous Zoom classes running long; such long videoconference sessions  can be exhausting for you and your students. Video calls often require more focus than in-person conversations to absorb the information and process a very limited view of non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language. Paying attention to these cues on a comparatively tiny computer screen, in combination with the constant reminder of being on camera, can make us uncomfortable and make our brains grow fatigued [1] [2]. The following tips can help you and your students overcome videoconference fatigue during your online classes. 

  • Consider offering some of your class activities  asynchronously. Whole-class or group discussion, Q&A, and comprehension quizzes can be effectively done with asynchronous tools like Canvas Discussions or Harmonize and with Quizzes. This can reduce the time needed for synchronous meetings and help you run a more successful synchronous class meeting.
  • Build in short, 5-10 minute breaks during the longer Zoom calls. For a 2 hours class, for example, take a 5-minute break every 30 minutes or so to look away from the camera. It’s harder to focus attention on a small screen than on a whole person in a classroom.
  • If viewing video clips is part of your class, take ten minutes for each clip, have everyone minimize the videoconference, and watch the clip before coming back to discuss it. This change in pace will work almost as well as a break to let people move, stretch, and re-set their attention.
  • Include engaging activities during the Zoom session. You can use polling in Zoom or iClicker Cloud, every 15 or 20 minutes, to assess student understanding and provide immediate feedback; polling can be a powerful complement to a discussion or after teaching a concept in the lecture. Chat in Zoom or Canvas can be used during the Zoom call to facilitate a quick, informal discussion about an open-ended question. Alternatively, you can use the breakout rooms in Zoom to facilitate hands-on problem solving, think-pair-share, and other group-work activities. Providing a specific prompt in a Google Doc, which will persist even after students enter the breakout rooms, helps direct the student discussion and make their work more effective.
  • Invite guest speakers to your Zoom meeting. You can amplify your online class by inviting experts to your Zoom session to share their perspectives and answer any related questions, or simply, by asking them to record a short video and sharing it on your course site with students. Learning about their experiences in the field can promote enthusiasm, engagement, and inclusion in your course.


If you’d like to discuss how to best implement some kind of break or change of pace in your synchronous course meetings, please feel free to reach out to the



[1] Harvard Business review, How to Combat Zoom Fatigue (2020)

[2] The Chronicle of Higher Education, Why Is Zoom So Exhausting? (2020) 

[3] Stanford University, Solve Common Online Teaching Problems

Release Date: 09/09/2020
Category: Learning & Teaching Consulting; Teaching Tips
Tags: Technology Services