How often do you actually enable video on your video conference or video call ?

This seems to be a question that troubles more than one person. It could be because you personally dont feel comfortable doing so, or because of your culture you may not be used to it, but many people still dont activate their video cameras on a “video conference” call (paradoxically).

As an Argentine living in Switzerland since several years now, I still have some friends back in Buenos Aires who dont feel very comfortable having a camera pointing at them. Some of them just prefer to use audio to communicate, some others cant enable video because they are not in a appropriate environment to enable it.

Something like this probably happens in work environments, people do not enable their cameras, disregarding the fantastic positive effect of using them.

Some of the benefits of enabling your camera during a video conference

  • You can see the person you are talking with and connect in another level.
  • You can see face expressions when talking that can help you better understand what the other person is saying, how they react to words.
  • It brings people closer, especially when they are working remotely.
  • It helps people feel part of the team
  • It helps with ice breakers Ex. “Hey, you left your bear grow, looks nice” or “Nice frame”…

Yes, it may push you to change some habits a bit, like making sure the place you are connecting from looks decent or that you may need take out your pajamas when working from home, but hey, that should be added benefit right? 🙂
Believe me, all of it is worth it. You will like the idea of seeing the other participants on the meeting too.

Use the right connection and tools

One important aspect of a successful video conference, is to use the right tools. If you work for an organization, you probably have tools like Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Zoom or other that would allow you to do video calls in a seamless way. Some of these tools like Teams even allows you to blur the background of your video feed so you dont need to worry about what you show behind you.

Its also important to have decent Internet connection if you are going to enable video (nowadays is more common to find them almost everywhere). If you cant find one, consider turning off WiFi and just connecting with one of your mobile devices over 3G/4G (careful, if your mobile plan lacks unlimited data transfer, you may incur in additional costs broadcasting video over your mobile network).

Some tips to have a smoother video conference experience

  • Think on a video conference as being in that room, avoid wearing clothes you wouldn’t wear in a meeting room in person. Logically if a meeting is with internal colleagues in your organization, you can probably relax a bit. It depends a lot on the culture at your place of work.
  • Dont eat, chew gum, etc.
  • Avoiding sneezing without muting yourself first. If you need to blow your nose, maybe its a good idea to disable the camera for some seconds, do it, then come back fresh and unobstructed 🙂
  • Smile, people are looking. Control your body language, it talks even if no words are coming out from your mouth.
  • Always be fully dressed, there has been plenty of times when people think they can just be in underwear because “this section is not seen on the camera”, wear clothes please.
  • Try to bring order to the space around you, in the end others will see where you are, how it looks like, etc. Neat and tidy is never bad.
  • Mute yourself if you are not speaking, this will avoid unnecessary noises that may disturb others.
  • Use your judgment, if you are not in an appropriate place or you have a bad connection, disable your video (but dont use this as your getaway to never enable it) 🙂

Finally, remember to BE PRESENT on that meeting that you accepted to participate. While tempting to do other things while being on that conference call, please respect the organizer and other colleagues who are investing time on that meeting too. If you start answering emails or doing something else, maybe its a better idea to excuse yourself or simply not accept the meeting on the first place. Ask yourself: “Do I really need to participate on this meeting?”, “What is the added value of me being there?”.

What do you think? Do you agree that enabling video brings people closer to each other?
Feel free to share this article with friends and colleagues that you think may benefit from it.