OPEN DISCUSSION: Video Comfortability

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  • Updated 4 years ago
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@Tom Strand - one of our Community Champions was replying here and suggested we start a thread around video comfortability.

Some things we hear internally:  

  • "This lighting is not flattering" - how do you combat this? 
  • "Sorry, I haven't done my hair/makeup yet, disabling video" 
  • "I hate seeing myself on camera, disabling video"
What are some best practices you encourage your teams to follow? For me, it's all about being prepared, making sure I'm lighting from the front, checking my video a couple minutes before going live, making sure my space is clean, and sitting up straight... oh and smile! 

In fact - Blue Jeans just made a pretty funny video recently, featuring yours truly. This is an example of me, NOT being prepared. Enjoy!

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Posted 4 years ago

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Ernest Jones

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Ouch... that video is enough to scare people away from video conferencing with thinking along the lines of, it is better to just leave it alone.  And I guess you'd prefer people wear BlueJeans during these video conferences rather than.... PJs.

One advantage of working from home is not having to dress up.  This video conferencing may be changing that, but we'll see how far.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out long term.

I was thinking today that not wanting to be seen on camera seems rational.  It is a lot to ask and a big change from what we've been accustomed to.  I suppose there will be a certain segment that won't put up with it and will avoid it at all costs.  But there are just as strong or stronger rationales that go to the opposite conclusion.  Tom mentioned the "emotional engagement" that you get with a video conference that you don't get otherwise.  You are clearly more vulnerable when you show your face, is that a good thing?

Two celebrities came to my mind when thinking about this.  Stephen Hawking and how he looks is part of his story.  And hearing something about Barbara Walters during the U.S. switch to HDTV not being very thrilled about having herself viewed with higher detail.  Does being a celebrity make a difference as to whether you can safely be seen on video?

As far as not wanting to see yourself, I think I saw a setting where you can turn it off, but then I suspect that if you use it, you are more likely to make one of those embarrassing mistakes.

Is there a plug-in or something that I could use to replace myself with a video of me listening attentively? <evil grin>

I don't think video will take the place of the written word.  You can write down what you mean, reread and fix it several times.  And a few days after you send it, find out that people are understanding the opposite of what you intended to say.  Thankfully this is rare.  With video conferencing you don't get to go back and correct something but people in the conference can help you correct it.
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Nick Verdegem, Champion

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My response to "I hate seeing myself on camera, disabling video" is that "in a face to face meeting, I have to look at you, and I'm not repulsed in horror at what I see".  I also point out that if they don't like the preview of themselves, then they should switch to the chat tab to hide the preview window.
Hi Ernst

I am sorry our video had that effect on you! Our intent was not want to scare you or anyone else away from using video as a tool to communicate. We understand that being on video is a new experience for many, so we thought we would shed humorous light on a very important aspect of video conferencing: you have to be an active and engaged participant. 

Today we do not have an icon of someone listening intently but you do have the ability to turn your video off. The other meeting attendees will not be able to see you but you will them.

Thanks for your input, this is what our Community is all about! 
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Ernest Jones

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Don't worry about scaring me away.  It could be doing the opposite too, by providing examples of the rare worst case scenarios and how to avoid them.  This preparation helps.
@Nick - that's a pretty good response! We find it's best to use humor, it tends to make people relax a bit. I firmly believe teaching our colleagues best practices around lighting and appropriate camera angles makes a huge difference in acceptance and ultimately adoption. 
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Jason Abbott

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It's very interesting to me how much of it is cultural.  When doing business in Asia-Pac, for example, video is a standard; it is the absolute minimum to get any work done.  Voice calls are almost unheard of when dealing with any level of management in that part of the world.  My friends find it incredibly odd and off-putting that us Westerners are so against video.  It is fascinating to me.  I put my video on unless I'm attending a meeting while driving, it's just distracting there.

I think, for most of us, it's because we don't want other people to see that we're not paying attention to the meeting.  That we are trying to multi-task.  If they can see us doing it, they can call us on it.
@Jason I think you nailed it. It's cultural. We have so many meetings a day and we are always multi-tasking. Without getting into it too much, I think the US has engrained different standards and expectations in us for how we are supposed to look too and portray ourselves. Perhaps we have a more self-conscious society? I'd be interested to hear from other regions; Europe anyone? It sounds like Asia-Pac has it figured out!