The Case for Turning ON your Camera at your next Virtual Meeting

I’m struck by how often people prefer (and even enjoy) face to face meetings, but how seldom they turn on their cameras when they’re in a virtual meeting.
A study published in the Wall Street Journal in August may tell the tale.   During conference calls people do everything under the sun EXCEPT engage in the meeting itself!

That same article cites research from Wainhouse Research that projects nearly a 10% annual rate of growth in the amount of time we’ll be in virtual meetings.   Great news if you’re a big time gamer, but suppose you’re actually hosting the meeting and you want people to engage.  What can you do?Once you get past the basics of only having the meeting if you really need it, making sure you’ve gotten the right participants involved, and sharing a purpose and agenda ahead of time…  consider turning on your video camera, so you’re more likable, which in turn tends to make you much more effective.

From a March, 2014 WSJ article, about likability and success at work, “Likable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others and have mistakes forgiven….Likability is more important—and harder to pull off—on video than in person… People watching a speaker on a videoconference are more influenced by how much they like the speaker than by the quality of the speaker’s arguments, according to a 2008 study in Management Science. The opposite is true when a speaker appears in person.”

So likability even trumps the quality of your content in a virtual meeting – time to turn on that camera (and your charm).

This sentiment was echoed by Vicki Flier-Hudson of High Road Global Services, at the recent TAG International Business Annual Conference.  Vicki is a leading ‘interculturalist’, who is someone that helps people develop the skills required to operate productive global virtual teams.   Vicki shared that all cultures value ‘seeing the whites of the eyes’ of a person you’re doing business with.  She advises her clients to leverage virtual meeting technologies, with video, to help overcome the cultural challenges of working on a global team.   She even suggests the use of virtual happy hours, virtual celebrations, virtual movie/book clubs… essentially, anything to make you more likable!