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Video off?

Exploring the benefits of switching your camera off during video calls.

On last week’s call with my coach we were experiencing some bandwidth issues causing the connection to lag. To try and rectify it we decided to switch off the video. It worked a charm for the tech issues and had some unexpected benefits for the session. Reflecting on it afterwards, I realised that I’d felt more freedom without a pair of eyes on me; I was more honest with myself, took more time to respond and felt more comfortable capturing my thinking on paper.

The next day I saw Ed Batista tweet about turning video off on his coaching calls. A thread he later turned into a blog post. He highlights some of the other benefits of choosing to go voice only:

  • the ability to roam
  • reduced visual distractions
  • increased understanding and empathy
  • reduced screen time

Something else to take into account is energy — both personal and global. So much has been written about “Zoom fatigue” and much of that focuses on the video element. I’m also seeing more and more research into the carbon footprint of video streaming. I’m left wondering how much of the savings we’re making from less business travel are being replaced by our increased Internet use?

All this has certainly got me thinking about the choices I make and the options I give my clients.

In this article I have focused on one-to-one conversations where video off is a choice and agreed between the two parties. It may not be an option for everyone. In groups making sure everyone can be involved is a necessity. If you want to find out more about making video calls accessible Ahmed Khalifa and Deafblind UK share some practical tips.