Why it’s rude to turn off your video in a Zoom meeting

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The year 2020 has been a revolutionary year. This is because thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the year has witnessed quite significant changes in the operations of almost every human endeavour. People from different industries across the world have been forced to adapt to new ways of doing things. One of such adaptations that many people have made is learning how to work from home.

There used to be a time when we would not believe that a day would come when we would be forced to work and even hold meetings from our different homes.

In 2020, however, Zoom conferences, which involve a virtual discussion amongst several participants from their various homes, have become popular and more industries are adopting it as an official option for meetings and conferences. This is because the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown of countries that followed it forced most people to start working remotely.

Video conferencing platforms like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc. have been in existence for some time now. However, the concept of meeting through these platforms is still new to many people as they only started trying it out this year. Consequently, a lot of them are yet to understand the basic principles of these platforms fully. It is not rare to find people asking questions like, “is it rude to turn off your video in a zoom meeting?”. Well, the answer to this question is yes. Turning off your video in a zoom meeting can be considered to be rude behaviour. Here are some reasons why:

  1. You may be the only one who has their video turned off

Perhaps, the reason why you always turn off the video option in your Zoom meetings is that you think everybody else has turned theirs off too, so it is no big deal. After all, nobody will notice your video is off if theirs are turned off also. Right? Well, the truth is that you might be the only person whose video is turned off.

Most participants of zoom conferences make use of the video call option. So, imagine being in a zoom meeting where every other person’s face is on screen, except yours. It is just like having a physical meeting at the office, where all the different stakeholders are physically present. Still, you choose to call in over the phone instead, because you do not feel like showing up physically. Of course, many of your co-workers and other participants would consider this rude behaviour.

Other participants in a Zoom meeting might also consider it as an insult if you refuse to turn on your video option like they have.

2) Other participants can’t see your expressions

One of the benefits of using the video option in a Zoom conference call is that it allows the meeting participants to view and measure each other’s facial expressions and reactions, even though they are not in the same physical space. This means that they can measure the impacts of their words and other people’s emotions towards the things they say in the meeting.

However, if your video is turned off during the meeting, it means that other participants will not be able to see your face. Consequently, they will be unable to measure your expressions and reactions to what they say. Some participants might consider this rude, especially if their videos are turned on, and you can view their faces.

3) It suggests you have not prioritised the meeting

Most times, when people turn off their video options in a Zoom meeting, it is because they are doing something else while the meeting is going on. Or because something else is wrong; either they are not appropriately dressed, or they are in the wrong environment, or are not adequately prepared for the meeting. As such, they will not want other participants to see them.

When this is the case, the connotation is that you have not prioritised the other participants in the meeting. If you regard your colleagues, you should dress adequately and find an appropriate location for your camera anytime you are in a virtual meeting. This will show them that you are putting in your best efforts, and you are committed, dedicated, and focused on the team’s success.

Of course, you can switch off your video option at intervals to carry out quick actions like shutting the door, sneezing, letting your dog/cat out, etc. However, ensure not to leave the camera off for an extended period and do not switch it off too frequently.

How to handle Zoom conference participants who switch off their videos as a host

Suppose you are hosting a Zoom meeting, and participants are turning off their video options. In that case, you can implement a rule that prohibits switching off cameras for the conference and call them out on it. You need to set the expectation upfront that the meeting is a dialogue amongst all participants, and there is a need to see each other’s faces. If anybody is embarrassed about their background, ask them to find a more suitable location. Otherwise, all participants should be able to see each other’s faces.

Bottom Line

Zoom conferences and meetings have become quite popular in 2020. This means that more people and organisations are adopting the conference call system every day to organise regular meetings and other events.

Just like it is with physical meetings, there are etiquette and behaviours expected of all participants in a Zoom meeting. As well, some actions can be considered to be rude or unacceptable in such arrangements, and turning off your video option without a good reason is one of them.