Please, turn your camera on!
My honest opinion as a speaker why everyone should turn on their cameras during zoom lectures and webinars.
“That was amazing.”
The audio jumped from one black box to another as people kept shouting their final words and one by one disappeared from my screen until the host ended the Zoom call. Suddenly I was left standing in the middle of my office, alone, staring at my laptop screen. It was almost 8p.m. and I sighed as the sense of loneliness took over. This was worse than doing a normal YouTube video shoot.
As I was packing my stuff to go home and call it quits for the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about that session. You see, I was invited to give a talk about marketing and how to build a personal brand. Over 50 people showed up and the numbers kept rising during my talk; people loved it. And yet, only four people agreed to turn on their cameras for me. Wait, what? Just four?
Yes. I literally had to beg people to turn on their cameras. At this point, I think most of our new reality is online. That’s where we talk, learn and conduct work meetings, but what about the cameras?
That remote session was one of maybe over a hundred I have done since March 2020. I have spoken to thousands of people in that time, from young high school students, to startups and even top salespeople in 20 countries at once, teaching classes and giving storytelling workshops. But that doesn’t mean I’ve gotten used to not having an audience; the camera is my way to engage with people, to not stare into the abyss.
I remember a workshop I did in Moscow a couple of years ago. It was my first time working with a simultaneous translation and I thought it would be a good idea to start with an ice breaker — a funny joke to get the day going with a smile. The translator laughed hard but when she told the joke in Russian, no one smiled. They just stared at me, and my initial reaction was to tell myself, ok… just three more hours. The session ended up being amazing. They had their cameras on, and I could read their faces and reactions, and adapt.