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Does video increase trust and engagement?

There are some great stats in this research from Zoom.

According to their research of over 700 Zoom users, 91% say there is more engagement if they turn their webcam on.

You can read more here:

So.. do you like to use your webcam on a virtual session or do you prefer to stick to other visuals to accompany your audio?


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  • I was speaking to a company recently who's faciltiators are on webcam throughout and they felt that was best practice for making a better relationship with attendees. 

    Some people though find it distracting, to see themselves on screen, and be aware of the camera all the time. 

    What do you think?

  • That's a good question! After early pilots, we found that we struggled with net connections from our stores using video, so we use only the video of the presenter and alot of interactivity. Having said that, skype seems to work okay, or at least people are more accepting of a lower video quality if there are no visuals to display. I was also nervous about the whole chat box tuning into a discussion around concerns that someone was pixelated! Anyway, I am keen to bring participant video back as soon as we get more bandwidth. And that Zoom 91% is a really interesting stat. 

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your thoughts on this. Yes, the 91% stat is interesting. I'm curious as the measure of engagement - is it merely people's computer focused on the software, or is it actual engagemnt in chat and other activities? It could even be an eye focus test to see where people look!

      I think it's essential for building the relationship, but as we discussed recently, I'm reticent as to the value for the facilitator to be on video the WHOLE time. I'm wondering how much true engagment that gets and how to measure it one way or another!

  • Here's a different take, from Donald Clark, about video distracting from learning:

    Disabling video may be better for online teaching and collaboration
    It is often assumed that online collaboration, teamwork and communications is inferior to face-to-face equivalents as we miss the visual cue...
  • I insist on video  - unless there's a real connection problem. I also leave my image on the screen to remind myself to smile!

  • All stories have a beginning, middle and end.
    I use live camera feeds at the start (welcome lobby / intro), in the middle (going into break / recap), and at the end (Q&A Summation / wrap).

    Turning them off is HUGELY powerful, and re-enforces the impact when you turn them back on.

    There is a huge difference between video feed of the people speaking / presenting / teaching, and video feeds for the audience / people watching.

    I often heard people say "when I'm presenting / teaching I MUST see the faces of the audience to judge how much they are listening"  - but, that is so pre-covid AFAIC, and akin to presenteisem style of management "if I cant see them working at their desk then they arnt working".

    Zoom fatigue is a saying, but, what it really translates to is camera feed fatigue, so, if you want people to pay attention, say something interesting, and, allow them to concentrate on you, not the video feeds of themselves, or, whoever moves / has a cat on screen / whatever distraction caught peoples eyes.   

    What REAL benefit is there for 20 people to see 20 video camera feeds in a training session? what do they ACTUALLY learn from seeing close ups of 19 other people? what could they be looking at instead of 19 video feeds of other people staring at the camera  feeds of 19 other people ?   shouldnt they be looking at some content?

    When your in room with 20 other people you do not look at 20 faces, you focus on the person speaking / task at hand.

    When your public speaking, you do not look at all of the audiences faces in detail.
    If you've got something interesting to say, and have reheasered your delivery, you do not need to constantly check for facial reactions, and if you do, they are often misleading as people dont reveal thier boredom via camera feeds, as we feel it's impolite.  

    So, if your audience has their cameras OFF, and they leave the session, take that as HONEST feedback that YOU NEED TO IMPROVE.  If the cameras are ON, and, nobody leaves, you have learned nothing as you forced them to stay by making it embarrasing for them to leave.

    Remember the story of the school pupil who replaced his camera feed with a short video loop of him staring at the camera, and ask yourself, would you have spotted the difference between that and live feed, and, is that what you should be focussing upon during your content delivery?

  • Some good reasons to not use your webcam - environmental impact! 

    Read more here:

    Turning off your camera during Zoom meetings can save the environment
    The data processing and transmitting power needed for just an hourlong videoconference uses up to three gallons of water and an area of land equivale…
  • An in-depth piece: Designing for Social Connectivity (Not Everyone Likes Webcams)

    elearn Magazine: Designing for Social Connectivity (Not Everyone Likes Webcams)
    COVID-19 has forced vast numbers of educational institutions to shift their operations from being delivered face-to-face to being delivered online. A…
  • A piece of research here about a theoretical argument for the causes of Zoom fatigue, including "eye gaze", cognitive load, the webcam being an "all day mirror" and more:

    Nonverbal Overload: A Theoretical Argument for the Causes of Zoom Fatigue · Volume 2, Issue 1
    Volume 2, Issue 1. DOI: 10.1037/tmb0000030
  • Hi all, this is a great thread - this is a question I've had on my mind for a while now, so really useful to hear others' experience and read the research shared. 

    I've been very much in the less is more camp.  Some stakeholders (and trainers) seem quite set on cameras as a way of 'getting engagement', but I think it's the wrong answer to the right question.  In my mind the approach James shared around beginning / middle / end is a great way to get the best of both worlds.

    Also, as designers of virtual training sessions, we put so much time and effort into creating impactful slides with images that bolster the learning points...I feel that we dilute this impact when our slides start having to compete with video feeds.

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