The struggle is real. Cameras on or off for meetings on Zoom? It’s a question that is often debated. Obviously we are talking about Zoom meetings here. And when we say Zoom, we just mean a video call. Equally it all applies to Teams, Meet, Hopin, WebEx, insert your video calling platform of choice here.
Zoom fatigue is a real thing. People have been on video calls for years, but since 2020 this has increased a lot for most people. Having to appear on camera 24/7 can be exhausting. It’s starting to feel like The Truman Show. And does it even matter if your camera in on for meetings or not?
To camera or not to camera, that is the question
For me, it all depends on the nature of the meeting. For instance, if this is a Zoom webinar with 1000 people and you are watching a keynote presentation it is very different to a social happy hour. The circumstance will ultimately dictate to whether you think it’s a camera on or camera off situation.
It will usually be your choice if you decide to go camera on/camera off. Sometimes you get told to do one or the other by the host of the meeting. However, if most people have their camera on then it’s probably the best thing to do. The only time you should not have your camera on is if you HAVE to be on the meeting, but you are doing something else that could be distracting. ie your boss has told you have to be on the call, but doesn’t mind that you are maybe cooking/breast feeding/having a bath at the same time. Probably best not to do all 3 of those at the same time.
One thing to bear in mind, is that your colleagues and friends would, in most cases, actually like to see you. If you’re working from home, video calls are a great way to stay connected. Emails and telephone calls are great for daily admin, but having a bit of eye to eye contact (or the Zoom equivalent of that) goes a long way.
Cameras on or off for a Zoom show?
As a virtual magician, I have learnt that for me, cameras on for meetings are an absolute must. I perform magic and mind reading with people in the audience so the show is all about seeing other people. Also, the real fun is seeing people react to the magic. If everyone had their cameras off and you were just watching me perform magic to the screen would take away what makes a zoom magic show so unique and brilliant.
I know from experience, that if people don’t have their camera on, the chances are that they will be distracted. Just knowing that the presenter and your colleagues/friends can’t see you, puts you in a different frame of mind. It’s the difference between watching TV at home on your sofa or going the theatre. At home, watching TV, people are now often on their phones too. Most people wouldn’t dream of doing that if they knew the actors could see them. Luckily, most people understand that convention when going to the theatre. And if they don’t, hopefully an usher will quickly give a quick reminder to usher their phone away.
The shows I perform are connecting people around the world. Quite often, just in the USA, I have people from New York to Los Angeles and everywhere between on the same call. It’s so much better when everyone can see each other and see others reacted to what they are watching on screen.
Cameras on or off for meetings on Zoom?
There is no exact answer. It depends. If it’s a video presentation or lecture with no interaction, then it seems fine to have your camera off. However, if it’s a live presenter that is looking for reaction and engagement, having your camera on seems to be the right thing to do. Be the audience you’d like if you were the speaker…