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Video-On or Off? Why You Should Think Before Scheduling Your Next Meeting

Posted by Samantha Roblin on Sep 22, 2021 12:34:12 PM

“Hi All! I’m here, just having a video-off day!” This is how a Zoom call started with an external partner last week.  

In that moment, as I was finishing up my lunch, struggling to hide the piles of giveaway clothing behind me, and trying to not let my 11-month-old daughter crawl over my computer plug, a video-off day sounded quite nice. It got me thinking: What if we all had video-off days?  

Since then, our team has explored different virtual meeting types: video on, video off, just speaker on video, regular phone calls, and even ones that are just over Slack. What we’ve learned is there are times when video is needed to accomplish the meeting goals, and there are other times when it is most certainly not.  

In fact, we’ve even found that video-off meetings are often more productive and have increased participation.  

We’re not the only ones thinking this way. Slack recently rolled out a voice recording feature that is intended to encourage fewer meetings. New research shows that camera-on meetings are more exhausting than camera-off meetings.

Organizational Psychologist Adam Grant, said it best:  

"The most underused tech of 2021: phones. Not every meeting needs to have cameras on. In voice-only calls, we're better at reading emotions—and more in sync.  

"Video adds cognitive load: we worry about making the right facial expressions and struggle to interpret body language."

When you’re scheduling your team’s meetings, here are three tips to help you navigate the video-on / video-off decision. 

1. Set an objective.

Have you set a clear objective of your meeting? If so, is video necessary to accomplish this objective? One example of when video on may be necessary is during a team-building event where people are working together to solve a puzzle.  Group meetings that require screen sharing and collaboration may also be best suited for video-on. 

Examples of when video-off may be a better fit is during a 1:1 or group meeting with one presenter.  

2. Make it clear to participants.

As the meeting scheduler, have you made it clear whether this is a video-on or video-off meeting? This should be in your meeting invite, and depending on group size and audience, you may decide to ask participants what they prefer.  

3. Make it part of the culture.

If you are interested in creating a culture where video-off days are encouraged, start by getting senior leaders on board and having them lead by example.  

Trust the experts and the research: Turning off your video doesn’t mean your team is turning off their interest, engagement, or productivity. In fact, your team will thank you for creating a culture where video meetings are productive and fulfilling:  

At the end of the day, video-on or video-off is a choice. It’s time to be intentional about how we use video in our remote communications. 

Looking for help creating a stronger culture at your organization? That’s our specialty.  

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