Having your camera on during virtual meetings is essential for our humanness
Conducting virtual meetings without the camera on has become the new norm because people are no longer present! Everyone is distracted – mainly by their devices. The newer generations are so absorbed in their devices and social media, wanting to stay in touch, read emails, be the first one to tweet, that they are often no longer present. Multi-tasking has long been deemed a curse, not a blessing. If we want to pay attention, we need to be immersed not distracted.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, possibly forever. More people work remotely, which means more and more meetings are no longer held in boardrooms but rather online. With Wifi being unreliable and connectivity not always 100% many are opting to switch off their cameras and mute themselves during meetings.
The result is that people are not being held accountable for staying present in meetings. It becomes really easy for one to perform other tasks, check emails, have a cup of tea, or stay in your pajamas; simply because no one can see you. This is very worrying from a productivity point of view. Are people coping, and are people communicating effectively?
We are human beings, we are social beings, we need to interact with other human beings. If our working day now consists of voice-only meetings or emails we are losing touch with our innate humanness which is the quality of compassion and consideration we have for others – to be in touch physically and emotionally, to interact in the real world, not only the virtual world.
Disadvantages of not having the camera on during online meetings
1. We can better interpret the message when facial expressions and body language can be seen. This is an important aspect of human communication. Being able to see each other does help with making sure the message that is being conveyed is not distorted.
2. Focus is easily lost. People can more easily perform other tasks now that they are no longer seen. They stop paying attention to the speaker and possibly miss out on important points. This not only affects productivity but is also incredibly rude to a speaker who has probably taken time to prepare their speaking points.
3. Lack of engagement. If people are no longer present and paying attention this makes it harder for them to engage on the topics that are being addressed during discussions. This lack of engagement makes it harder for the speaker to understand how much of their message their audience has actually gaged.
We all need to switch on our cameras; we all have to say hello and chat like you would do before you walk into a meeting. You could have a virtual cup of coffee together, interact, and then you commence the meeting. It’s important to recreate that boardroom’s visual feel. We need to have that connection. If once the personal interaction is done and you find your Wi-Fi is waning then you could switch off your camera or mute yourself.
Taking breaks during sessions and requiring everyone to come back on camera to interact again can also help with keeping people’s attention.
At the end of the meeting, you can all come on camera again and all have a chance to say something and then wave each other goodbye. Much more humane in my opinion!
Some people have welcomed the virtual online meeting scenario allowing them to hide away from public speaking. They may be nervous about speaking in large groups so this suits them in the short term. VoiceWorks has adapted our courses to include coaching people on how to use their voice more confidently during online interactions and to conduct business presentations on webinars successfully.