When you don’t have your camera on

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 21st September 2021

Something that I experience a lot, and hear my clients talk about, is online meeting participants not turning their camera on. Now, I know that with remote working, it can be hard to have what is happening behind us on show in a meeting. We might be forced to work from our bedroom, have kids jumping around us, or just be having a bad hair day. I get that, and always try to be understanding when my training or meeting participants choose to turn the camera off.

But when I deliver training or meet with people, it is really important for me to get toe to toe, belly to belly, eye to eye, and when online, camera to camera with the other participants. How else can I get to understand them, and create the connection for them to understand me?

In the work context, there can be a perception that managers want cameras on because they care about what you are or are not doing. But I don’t subscribe to this approach. I want your camera on because I care about you, not about what you are doing. I care about getting the most out of our interaction, for you and for me.

So, if you have slipped into a habit of not turning your camera on in meetings, think about what is then missing from the meeting. When you don’t turn your camera on I can’t:

  • See you
  • See your body language and hand gestures
  • Pick up the nuances of your expressions
  • Know when you are trying to say something
  • Observe your mood
  • Add context to your words
  • Grow my relationship with you
  • Experience your rich world and environment
  • See you smile
  • Spot your frown
  • Be certain that you are engaged

I strongly believe that we should manage the amount of time we spend in meetings carefully, and when we are in a meeting, we should aim to make it the absolutely best use of all of our time. Remember that being able to see people can be a critical factor in achieving this. If we were in a physical meeting room together, we would not turn our chairs around and avoid looking at each other. That would be rude. So, let’s not do that when meeting online if we can possibly help it.

Ok, Lights, Camera, Action!

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