Why Turning Video on Makes Better Meetings

By Michael Reynolds | | 11.24.19

I know I know... the introverts out there are already groaning (which is most of our team). In our industry, web meetings are an every day occurrence and we love the technology that enables us to work from anywhere.

So when it's time to fire up a Zoom meeting and do some collaboration, it can be very tempting to leave video off and reinforce that barrier between us and the rest of world, right?

I hear you. It's much more comfortable to go sans video. But I would argue that turning video on results in better meetings, smarter collaboration, better business relationships and shorter more efficient meetings. Here's why.

Non-verbal cues are easier to pick up on

If you're a disembodied voice behind a computer, it can sometimes be difficult to get the full context of the conversation. We weigh a lot with our expressions and non-verbal communication. These cues are valuable in helping others understand what we are trying to communicate.

By creating a face-to-face experience, we are replicating (as best we can) the experience of being in the same room and therefore the rich multi-channel stream of information that goes with it.

Video helps build better relationships

When we turn on video, the person or people at the other end are more human and real to us. You've probably seen the opposite of this in action while arguing about politics on Facebook (not that you'd ever do that). When someone is typing behind a keyboard with no personal interaction, it can be easy to forget that you are talking to real people with feelings. This can lead to poor communication and misunderstandings.

Talking in real time with audio is a great way to improve this but when you can see the other person, it helps humanize them even more. This leads to more empathy and better communication.

Video helps make meetings shorter and more efficient

Let's face it, when you're on a meeting with audio only, you're going to end up checking your email, getting distracted on Facebook, or doing a number of other things that split your attention. This is especially true with group meetings in which you are not required to be engaged the whole time.

If you're one of the few people that can avoid distractions, carry on. But the rest of us can become sidetracked pretty easily and audio only makes this more likely.

By turning on video, we are creating accountability that helps us focus more on the communication and the people in front of us. It helps us stay engaged and therefore effective as we participate. This can also have the side effect of shorter meetings because more engaged participants means faster decisions.

Try video on

So if your agency has been a "video off" culture (even internally) up to this point, try setting a standard of "video on" for everyone and see how it goes. Evaluate the results of your meetings and see if your communication and efficiency improves.

You may get some groans at first, but you may also end up building better relationships with your clients and become stronger as a team overall.