Turn on the Camera: Improve Your Online Meetings with One Small Change

Meetings | Engagement

It’s Monday morning and you’re kicking off your workday with a team meeting. You open your virtual room but keep the camera off as your first cup of coffee hasn’t hit yet and you don’t feel comfortable showing your face to your colleagues this early in the morning.

I get it, turning your camera on can feel like a lot of pressure, especially before your first cup of coffee. You’re not alone on this, but I’m here to explain why the pros of turning on your camera for a online meeting outweigh the cons.

The days of fully in-person meetings are behind us. According to research done by Ladders, current projects show that 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022 and will continue to increase into 2023.

Even with the risks of COVID-19 slowing, allowing companies to move back to in-person, conventional settings, many businesses are choosing to stick with remote or hybrid business models. That’s why it’s as essential as ever that employees take steps to ensure their success in the virtual world.

Turning your camera on is one small step for man (or woman) and one giant leap for virtual meeting success.

In this blog, I’ll provide three reasons you should have your camera on during your next meeting.

  1. Provides More Visual Cues
    Everything your body does is a non-verbal message that communicates with individuals in your meetings. Effective professional communication isn’t just about what you say but how you convey it.

    Your facial expressions and hand gestures add value to conversations. Even when others are talking, smiles and nods will foster a sense of encouragement and comfort that allows for more open and healthy communication in the workplace. Additionally, with cameras on you may be able to more readily pick up some unspoken discomfort that can be drawn out in conversation.

  2. Creates Engagement & Builds Agreements
    According to a 2022 survey by Vyopta, 93% of executives believe that employees with cameras turned off during virtual meetings aren’t adequately engaged and committed to the company. When your camera is off without explanation, others may expect the worst. They will assume you aren’t engaged in the meeting and are likely multi-tasking instead of contributing. In fact, in a Zippa survey, 15% of participants reported doing house chores during virtual meetings.

    When faces are seen in meetings, it’s easier to engage with one another and lean on visual cues to build agreements. This will lead to more successful outcomes and improved working relationships.

  3. Builds a Collaborative Environment
    Creating a collaborative and friendly environment is essential for the success of a virtual or hybrid workplace. With everyone working from a distance, fostering good working relationships can be a challenge. There’s less opportunity for water cooler chat, taking lunch breaks together, or the bonds created by being physically around your colleagues each day. This doesn’t mean relationships can’t be built. It just means that you’ll need to be proactive in building the type of work environment you desire. Connecting with co-workers is much easier when you can see faces. No one wants to become friends with a blank box or non-moving profile picture. 

When Should the Camera Be Off? 
While it’s important to have your camera on in meetings, there are times when keeping your camera off is necessary. Sometimes it’s as simple as having technical difficulties such as low bandwidth. Sometimes, you have energetic kids running around in the background or you’re working from a busy coffee shop. If you feel that activities happening in your background will be a distraction in a meeting, it may bea good idea to keep your camera off.

When working from a distance, it can be tempting to keep your camera off. But having your camera on can help provide valuable virtual cues, create engagement, and contribute to building a positive and collaborative culture.  

Having your camera on in a meeting is one small step to improve your online meetings, but it won’t solve all meeting challenges. Learn more about our popular training program, Essential Facilitation. Over the last few years, the virtual option for this program has helped hundreds of individuals learn the skills to facilitate high-stakes meetings, build an inclusive culture using virtual meetings, and improve performance. See what it can do for you and your organization.

About Jodi Cahn

Jodi's mission is to help clients develop and implement learning solutions that have the biggest positive impact on their businesses and their own experience of well-being at work. Learn more about Jodi