More Reasons to Turn Your Camera On

My recent blog post, Get Over It. Turn Your Camera On drew so much feedback and so many comments that I wanted to take an opportunity to follow up.

The world seems to be split into two groups on this:

1. Absolutely everything is better with video: Teamwork, trust, productivity…

2. I don’t want to turn my video on and I’ll make any excuse not to do so.

The Excuses

The reasons that people don’t want to turn their video on seem to also fall into 2 categories:

1. I don’t want to show myself looking like I look at the moment

2. I want to multi-task and don’t want people to know

Here are the most common excuses I hear when people don’t want to turn their camera on:

  • My camera isn’t working
  • I don’t have a camera
  • My internet connection is not good enough, I can only do voice
  • I’m in a public place, it will be better to just do voice
  • Voice only is better for me today
  • My company does not allow us to turn our cameras on for security reasons

This last one is sometimes true, and sometimes not true when people say it.

I’m not an expert here, but know a team that works in a secure environment. They have a rule to keep their cameras covered during normal working time, but if they have a video conference, they go to an approved room where there is nothing confidential to see in the background and they can participate via video from there.

A bit more about the two main reasons.

1. I don’t want to show myself

If you don’t like what you look like, that is your own idea, but to me the camera is not the issue…Because you go to meetings in the world in person and people SEE you — and they see you in super-high, real-world definition.

I think the difference is that you don’t see yourself. We don’t tend to look at ourselves for hours in a day, but on video conferences you can usually see yourself in a little window, and it freaks people out.

But not turning your camera on…

It’s kind of like going to meetings in the real world with a paper bag over your head

2. Multi-tasking

OK… If you are dialing into an all day business review where you are not talking but you are required to be there, I can accept that it might be a good use of your time to multi-task.

But if you are participating in a meeting, multi-tasking is disrespectful and decreases the productivity of the team.

It should never be a reason to keep your camera off in a meeting where you are supposed to be present and participating.

What you said…

Here are some of the comments I got on the last article:

On not turning your camera on…

I experience so much more engagement with video and really don’t like it when people make excuses when they don’t turn on their camera.

Totally Agree, I do find myself having a weird behavior sometimes, if I am the only person with Video on instead of leaving it and hoping others do the same I switch it off, I have got to stop doing that!

On the team benefits of video calls…

Since that first article I have talked with 3 different teams who want my help to increase cross organization communication and collaboration.

My first advice. Turn your cameras on!

Yes there are other things we can talk about and add to that, but…

There is no single thing that will make as big a difference in the quality of your collaboration than turning your cameras on.

So true and the amount of conversation and collaboration on calls increases immensely when videos are on!

I’ve only recently started letting the video camera turn on when I do video conferences. I do find that it makes it easier to work with people when you can see their faces

On normalizing the work from home look…

One team decided to make a game of my 1-minute look idea!

Here is a comment from another team which I love:

I run a weekly team call on a Friday where video is mandatory, pajamas are expected and it’s a whole heap of fun. You have to lead by example though! I always have my video on and quite often in a total state post workout/‘lounge wear’ whatever. It’s a trust thing in my opinion

>>In response a team member wrote:

Yes! !  I feel like we have really connected even though we haven’t met in person because of video.  I even got to meet your beautiful daughter and cute dog. 

I love the idea of making video mandatory AND normalizing pajamas and workout clothes.

The important part is the collaboration, trust and productivity the team gains. No one is judging you on what you look like. When you keep your camera off you are reducing your team’s effectiveness and your credibility.

On how it gets easier…

My favorite comment was this:

It’s actually quite liberating to not be judged by appearance but for merely being present. Thanks for sharing

Other comments…

Completely agree.  I think there is a 3 – 5 consecutive video meeting hump you have to get over and then it feels natural. 

What causes people to regress is having too many meetings where other participants don’t turn on their cameras.  So keep encouraging your colleagues.  It’s much better! 

In case you missed it, here is the video where I show how bad I am willing to look on camera, and why I got over it.

Patty Azzarello

Patty is available to speak at your company, annual meeting, or customer event. She can also deliver a custom workshop on Leadership or Strategy Execution for your leadership team. Contact Patty.

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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her books RISE and MOVE.

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