The advocacy for turning our cameras on

In our virtual selling training, leadership workshops, and many other trainings, the first thing we cover to connect with the other person is: turn your camera on! The presence of facial expressions, body language, and being able to put a face to the voice, make a meeting engaging and helps build a relationship with each other. The question we then get is: how can I make the other party turn the camera on? Honestly, this is a tough one. I went to Google for advice and when I typed “people will not turn their camera on in the meeting“, these were the other searches related to mine that Google suggested:

• excuses to not turn on the camera on zoom
• how do I disable video camera on zoom meeting
• can my employer force me to video conference
• are you required to turn on your camera on zoom
• do you have to turn on your camera for zoom law

The number of articles on the “top 10 excuses” and “ways to get out of using your camera” made me laugh. The most common ones were “I have bandwidth issues” and” “my camera isn’t working”. In the end, not turning your camera on would be the same as doing a face-to-face meeting with a paper bag over your head. Although there are valid reasons for not turning your camera on, like privacy concerns, and real bandwidth issues, most of the reasons seem to be covering 2 options:

• People want to answers emails and multitask during the meeting
• They don’t want to show how they look today

So what can we do to get the other party to turn their camera on? Try out these 3 tips:

1. Set the expectation of using video in the meeting invite

Depending on the meeting culture, people are not used to turning their camera on and are not prepared when prompted to do this in a meeting. Therefore, clarify the invitation that it will be a Video meeting and share why you are excited to see them on camera. Make it casual by mentioning the agenda and others things that are important for the meeting.

2. Give a good reason why people need to turn their camera on

There are many good reasons for people to turn their cameras on during a meeting. It increases engagement, collaboration, enhances relationships and productivity.

Before you start the meeting, give an upbeat and positive reminder of the WHY of using the camera. What are some valid arguments?

• To make the meeting feel as much like an in-person meeting as possible
• To increase collaboration, effectiveness, and productivity
• Because I miss seeing you!

3. Use the virtual meeting background as a tool to show you’re respectful of people’s privacy

A big reason why people don’t want to turn their cameras on is that they don’t want colleagues or strangers peeking in their homes. It is important for us to be mindful and respectful of that. Luckily, virtual meeting backgrounds were invented! Start your meeting by checking everybody’s camera and position the virtual meeting background as a fun tool. In addition, be upbeat and excited when you give the instructions. If you’re hesitant when you’re asking this, it will make the other party hesitant to turn it on. “Before we start, let’s make sure everybody’s camera is working and we know where the virtual meeting backgrounds are. As it’s really bad weather in Belgium, I chose to add some sunshine to our meeting today”. Then address the people who have already turned on their camera in a positive way.

In the end, if people don’t want to turn their camera on, you can’t make them. Demonstrate that you respect that choice and let them know that you will involve them as much as possible.

Create a 2-way conversation by asking questions, opinions, and doing a check-in every 2 – 3 minutes to make sure they are still mentally in the meeting room.