Video Conferencing Best Practices: Why Turning On Your Camera Matters
Ah, the virtual world of remote work, where Zoom and Microsoft Teams are our modern-day conference rooms, and turning on your camera has become the equivalent of facing the right way at a physical table. But why, oh why, do so many participants choose to sit there with their chairs turned away?
In this blog post, we’ll recognize why people keep their cameras off and make a case for the importance of flipping the virtual chair around and turning that camera on.
Reasons for the Black Boxes
There are logistical reasons like bandwidth concerns (especially if a household is sharing the internet with other remote workers and students).
Privacy can be a valid concern, especially when your co-workers might catch a glimpse of your partner, children, or other personal aspects of your home life. Not everyone has the ability to go into a room in their home and shut the door.
And we all have those days and moments where you just can’t be on camera for personal reasons.
We work with many different organizations with varying levels of camera policies and understand that sometimes, people just don’t want to be on camera.
As with all matters, we try to meet people where they are.
The Case for Turning Your Camera On
Now that we’ve explored a couple of reasons behind “camera-off,” it’s time to uncover why turning your camera on can be so beneficial.
Building Human Connections
In a remote world, seeing your colleagues’ faces fosters a sense of connection. It humanizes the digital experience, making interactions more personal and enjoyable.
For those who are experiencing “Zoom fatigue” or feeling the added stress of seeing their own face too much (“When did that wrinkle appear?”), take advantage of Zoom’s “Hide Self View” feature and MS Teams’ “Hide for me.” These features allow your colleagues to see you while simultaneously reducing the strain that can be caused by constant self-evaluation.
Remember that we’re all in this virtual boat together, and it’s great to occasionally share a laugh over a furry co-worker making a cameo or seeing a kiddo steal the show!
So much of our communication is non-verbal—those nods, smiles, and eyebrow raises that convey understanding or confusion. With cameras on, you’re better equipped to understand and be understood.
Accountability and Mutual Respect
Turning on your camera shows you’re engaged and accountable for the meeting’s success. It’s like saying, “I’m here, and I’m ready to contribute.” Plus, it keeps those pesky multitaskers in check. (Even if, like me, you swear you are a master at it…)
Meeting facilitators, presenters, and trainers work really hard to make sure that the time spent in meetings is valuable and meets the expected outcomes. There is a lot of work behind the scenes and before the meetings to prepare. It’s important to show kindness, courtesy, and mutual respect to friends and colleagues when you can. Imagine if you had to present to a sea of black boxes. Engaged faces can make a world of difference to presenters and facilitators.
When cameras are on, people tend to participate more actively. It’s like being in a real room where you can’t hide behind the mask of an avatar. Encourage engagement by setting an example. Go ahead be brave.
Seeing your colleagues’ faces can be an instant morale booster. It humanizes work, reducing feelings of isolation and making remote work more enjoyable. (I however recommend drawing a line at virtual staring contests… )
In this digital age, turning on your camera is more than just a courtesy, it’s an important step to building and maintaining human connection.
While there are understandable reasons like bandwidth conservation and privacy (including the unpredictable presence of pets or kids), the benefits of connecting face-to-face in the virtual world can outweigh the drawbacks.
So, next time you’re in a remote meeting, consider flipping that virtual chair around, turning on your camera, and bringing a little more humanity to your digital life.