Turn Your Camera on During Video Conferencing


Video conferencing isn’t going anywhere. In fact, in a Forbes Insights, 80  percent of executives shared that video calls were replacing audio calls as “the norm” for internal collaboration and 84 percent felt it was becoming preferred for external collaboration as well. A whopping 90 percent felt that video conferencing has a positive impact on performance. If 2020 taught us anything, it was that we can stay connected and effective by leveraging technology like video conferencing, whether we’re in the office or working from home. However, I think we need all agree to some common rules of engagement – what should be acceptable and what shouldn’t when it comes to hopping on that Zoom or TEAMS call. Let’s shape some modern manners for video conferencing and start with turning your camera on.

Better Communication Relies on Non-Verbal Communication

This should go without saying, but the WHOLE POINT of a video call is the opportunity to see faces. And it’s not just that we like seeing each other – though that’s part of it. It’s also a critical piece of effective communication.

Every one of the Chartwell Agency’s professional development training sessions on communication includes the importance of non-verbals. In processing communication, there’s what you say, how you say it, and how you look when you say it. With up to 80 percent of communication happening non-verbally, video calls offer that distinct advantage over audio calls in our ability to send and receive all those subtle cues. Nods of agreement, smiles of understanding, and furrowed brows of confusion all get processed quickly and quietly in our subconscious and help us adjust our communications in real time. Seeing faces makes us better communicators.

You’ll Be More Engaged

The temptation is real. You think, “I can multitask. I can listen dutifully, contribute meaningfully, AND respond to e-mails/proof that document/schedule another meeting/grab a snack.” I hate to be a killjoy, but no, you can’t. Studies have shown that while we think we can multitask, engagement and productivity suffer when we stretch our attention. Plus, knowing that we’re watching (and others are watching us) drives accountability to be more active and present in the call.

Small Talk Makes a Big Difference

Building a relationship – in person or remotely – requires engagement on a personal level. Just think of how important the small talk before a meeting can be. You’re all in the conference room, filing in with coffee and big ideas, but before you jump into the agenda there’s all that great, “How was your weekend?” conversation. We learn about one another and create connections in those moments. Video conferencing still allows for that engagement in a way that’s a little more authentic than on an audio call. As an added bonus, video calls sometimes give us glimpses into the real world of our colleagues and clients. We’re literally in their living rooms (sometimes), and there’s so much we can learn and chat about!

I understand there may be some exceptions to the “camera at all costs” philosophy. Bandwidth issues may force some participants to turn off their video. Some large meetings or training sessions may only require the speaker to be seen. However, can we all agree that if you are in a video call during which you are expected to contribute, you should turn on your camera. If you can’t for some reason, make sure to share that with other participants up front and still contribute as if everyone was watching.

For more communication insights, check out Chartwell Agency’s training video or list of professional development topics for teams, supervisors and individuals.