I know that there are some people who will fundamentally disagree with me, but you know what….you’re wrong! Leaving your webcam off in any virtual meeting is very bad practice indeed. It severely reduces your ability to communicate and collaborate with your colleagues which is surely the main reason you are there. Without going into any communication theory, we all just know how much easier it is to talk to someone when we can see them. Noticing that flick of an eyebrow, a momentary pursing of the lips or the light in someone’s eyes can make a massive difference to understanding one another.
And you know what, switching off your webcam is just…rude. I’ve been in loads of meeting over the last few months when most of us have bared our souls on camera to reveal that mistaken wall paper choice, or our shaggy lockdown hairstyles or our children in full flight causing havoc in the background; only to have one or two people hiding behind a blank screen. It just makes me think, can’t you make the effort too? Why do you think you are entitled to some special privilege?
What excuses do people have for not following my sermonising advice? Well here are some of the most common ones I’ve come across:
My house is a tip! Well firstly I don’t think any of us are living in a showroom. And maybe your house is a world away from the swish office you’re used to working in. But I’ve found lock down has helped me see into people’s lives and vice versa. And for me that’s really helped me develop better and deeper business relationships. And besides, most software tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams allow you to put up a virtual background. I’ve been presenting in front of a neat, designer bookcase for the last few months – I don’t think many people realise it’s fake!
We haven’t got enough bandwidth! Well this is a better argument. However, I’ve probably talked to around 200 people over the last few months on my online workshops and courses and the vast majority have had enough internet juice to run video and audio streams. So probably most of us do have enough bandwidth. Try the webcam, see if the quality is good enough. If it isn’t, okay you’ve got me, go to audio only.
I only put on my webcam when I talk. Don’t do this. Communication is two way. It’s just as important for the speaker to see the listener’s reactions as it is for them to see you when you talk. For me, it makes a massive difference to see my audience. It helps me pitch the message in the right way and also keeps my energy up.
I’m entitled to privacy! Mmh, this is a tricky one. But for me switching off your webcam is akin to sticking a paper bag over your head in a real meeting. You wouldn’t do it. And I’m sure if you stick up a virtual background and keep the camera close cropped to your head, you are not revealing anything more of yourself that you would do in a normal office day. In fact, less so.
My hair/face/eyes look bloody awful. Well suck it up. Me too. At least my ever expanding lock down stomach is hidden away from the webcam. But hey, we let people see us in the everyday office so…brush the hair, stick on so lippy and put some glasses on to hide the worst of it!
So there we go. Rant over. Stick your ***** web cam on!