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3 reasons you might want to turn on that video!

Why do people turn on their video? Why you should, too! An opinion piece on the topical issue.

Have you noticed? A smaller proportion of attendees, and typically the same people turn on their video during a virtual meeting. What drives this behaviour? Let us look at some possibilities.

The thought of this post was more frustration. I hope you will excuse me!

Many Senior leaders realise the critical need of being present

During extensive remote working, leaders need to be present more than ever. Showing-up via video can be a strong positive signal to the team. It’s more intimate than voice, and at least some non-verbal cues can be communicated. Senior leaders recognise this.

Some simply demonstrate their openness via video presence

Many people I greatly admire are approachable, open, and just very comfortable in their own skin. I have consistently noticed that regardless of their seniority, or extroversion, they take efforts to demonstrate their value of openness! Turning on video is one such conscious effort they are willing to make.

Positive or negative peer pressure

This is an interesting phenomenon. I have seen that often people do it to avoid standing out! if majority have their video on, it seems almost rude to not have yours on. Eventually, someone gives into the pressure.

Now imagine a really senior leader has his or her video on. People may feel compelled to turn on their video, too! Especially in a smaller group.

Group think creeps into virtual as well Photo by Dylan Gillis

Reverse is also true as the group dynamic plays out very predictably! When a leader doesn’t turn on his or her video, participants usually follow suit. Also, in a busy call if most people have their video off, the “video on” crowd might feel out of place, and give up eventually!

While there may be other reasons to consider, I would like to move on and tell you 3 reasons why you should turn your video on!

1. It is an opportunity to signal that you mean business

Firstly, if you decide to show up on video, you will have to take some efforts. Get out of your PJs, and put on a presentable outfit. You will have to refrain from fidgeting with your phone. You cannot get distracted and browse the web while a discussion is on. Turning on video sends an unconscious signal that you take your work setting seriously. It also naturally reinforces that you are not tardy, or distracted. In a 100% remote world, this can be a competitive advantage.

2. It is an opportunity to stand out

Did you know, most video conferencing systems will bump people who have videos on to the front of the screen. It is a reliable way to get some familiarity with your stakeholders. Psychology and sociology both tell us that familiarity is a critical pre-requisite of approval. We do not approve, let alone prioritise something that we are not familiar with.

Photo by visuals

In a virtual setting, video is one of very few tools you have left to enhance your familiarity!

3. It is an opportunity to demonstrate emotional intelligence

Imagine the host of a virtual meeting turns on their video. Everyone else couldn’t be bothered. How do you think that makes the host feel? The host is probably thinking am I the only one in need of better social contact here?

Yours truly in my wife’s office that I have encroached upon!

A brave one (like me 😜) might put that aside and carry on! Most people however, will not have a great aftertaste. Anyone willing to take initiative during such a situation is a genius on the EI scale. This is an opportunity to be kinder to your host, and make their day just a bit brighter. I have also noticed that there is a fair bit of snowballing going on when it comes to video – others might follow suit. This is a better outcome for communication overall.

This doesn’t mean everyone CAN and SHOULD share their video

People’s lives are unpredictable, and this opinion piece doesn’t claim to be comprehensive in nature. Some may live in a small flat and will simply not have the room to be on video conference easily. Others have caring responsibilities that make it impossible to be on video.

Many studies have also revealed that being on video is stressful. One of my posts covers aspects of why that is. Please remember though that we have a choice. So choose to do what does NOT stress you!

Please don’t stress, 2020 is NOT normal 🙂 Photo by sharon wright

Please do share what makes or breaks video sharing for you! Perhaps someone will find it useful.

Find that interesting? Connect with me via my e-mail list. I send 2 e-mails a month with useful tips & learnings!

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By Abhinandan Shah

Hi, I’m Abhi. After living many years in London, me and my family re-located back to India in the summer of 2017. I spend most of my time working with a high performing team at Barclays in Pune, India and the rest with my son Anik! I have spent half of my career in commercial product roles and half in technology. I have also spent over 9 years living outside India, and have traveled to over 27 countries. Visit the Bio section of this website to learn more about me.

I'd be excited to know what you think?