Get over it. Turn your camera on.

The Dreaded “Video Phone”

If you did not grow up with a camera phone, you probably remember the days of thinking about the absolute horror of a video phone.

“Can you imagine that if when people called you at home, they could see what you look like? Thank god there is no such thing as a video phone!”

We’ve carried that idea forward…and it’s an old idea.

I talk to young people all the time on video and they have their phone on their desk and I can see 5 chins and up their nose, and it doesn’t phase them in the least!

I have never had a young person refuse to use video, no matter what they look like at that moment.

I on the other hand used to think I needed to be “camera ready”

I used to think that not only did I need to look presentable, I needed to look extra good, if I were to do a video call. The camera somehow upped the stakes.

I finally realized that it truly doesn’t matter. I got over myself, and I turned my camera on. No matter what I looked like.

Here is a video about how I realized that it really DOESN’T MATTER how you look.

It’s not OK to not show your video

If you are more comfortable not showing your video, you need to know that you are sacrificing a lot for this comfort.

Your refusal to participate with video damages your brand, your ability to connect and collaborate, shows a lack of respect for others, and maybe most importantly…

You will age out of the workplace faster if you continue to refuse to show up on video.

The Value of Video

I get questions so frequently about:

How do I enable better cross team collaboration?
How do I get my team to communicate better?
How do I establish my Personal Brand when I am a remote worker?
How do I make my multi-site team more productive?
How do I connect better with my remote sites?

The number one answer to all of these things, the thing that creates them most value and the biggest difference is:


A video call is almost like being there in person.

I have developed very strong and genuine professional relationships and friendships over video calls.

It simply would not have been possible over the phone, without the video connection.

But with video…

  • I have participated in some of the most productive work collaborations ever.
  • I have realized that video allows you to build a sort of comfort and trust with another person that is simply not possible with voice only.
  • I have experienced the development and motivation of a team to work and communicate better, in ways that could never happen over the phone.

Once you experience it, you get it. But if you resist it, you are missing out, big time.

Working without pants

I end up in my workout clothes all day sometimes.

One of the great advantages of working from home, is that you don’t have to get all dressed up and do your hair and makeup.

In the past I used to get up at the crack of dawn to fit in a workout, a shower, and make myself camera ready by 8am for clients in Europe.

After about a month of that I decided, it’s not worth it, and it’s not necessary. And more importantly…they didn’t care.

So I got comfortable with turning my camera on, post workout, no shower.

Of course if you are doing a job interview or a media video-interview, you’ll want to be more camera ready, but when you are meeting with colleagues who already know you, I have found that after the initial moment…

…Once you start talking, all attention goes to the collaboration and the conversation.

It is not a 1-hour assessment of what the other person looks like. Nobody cares how you look that day.

Connecting with people on video regularly, looking different each time, (sometimes good, sometimes OK, sometimes bad), it helped me realize that the connection is SO MUCH stronger than the visual look.

What you look like in any moment truly doesn’t matter.

The one-minute optimization

As I talked about on the video above, If you are self-conscious about what you look like on the video, and you don’t want to go through the whole routine of getting camera ready, figure out your own 1-minute optimization.
Consider the lighting, consider the camera angle (put your device on a box so you are not looking down at it), do something quick with hair or glasses, change your shirt.

It really does not take a lot to improve the quality of your video. And showing up at all has such an enormous benefit, it’s important not to dismiss it.

If you don’t show up on video you are missing out. You are damaging team performance, and you are damaging your own career power and brand.


I got so many positive responses to this article, that I decided to share them in another article: More Reasons to Turn Your Camera On.

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.

Or if you would like some personal help on your own professional development, check out her Executive Mentoring Group. It’s filled with insights, resources and support to build your executive confidence, advance your career, and includes direct mentoring from 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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