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Cameras optional

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Jody Vance: Mandatory video calls were normalized during the pandemic. Now, we should consider making it normal to leave the camera off.

Lights, camera, let’s meet!

Twenty months into COVID life adjustments, and return to work beginning in earnest as we look toward Labour Day, here’s The Middle as we exit our two dose summer: can we dial back the video component of our communication and get back to a simple “call me”?

Video calls have become all but a requirement in the work environment. On top of everything else, this is super stressful for some.

As one who has spent decades in broadcast, much of that on camera, this isn’t about me. It’s easy to go “on camera” in my world. But for introverts and shy people, this can be a very big deal. For those who struggle with pressure to perform, what used to be a simple call can be acutely uncomfortable, seeing themselves on screen.

Seeing yourself on camera is enough to send many into a tailspin of self judgement, because people feel the On Cam pressure.

The people you see on TV have professional makeup and lights placed specifically to ensure the best possible face is put forward. The angles, the set decoration, the hair. (Oh my god, the hair!)

Our default to Zoom, Teams, Zencaster or even FaceTime puts pressure on those who do not naturally gravitate toward “camera on” calling.

Now feels like a good time to get back to the “green button” on our phones and allow the video meeting be only when absolutely necessary.

In the early days of the pandemic, video calls were about “team building,” and a glimpse of lost human connection when working from home. Now’s the time to look for solutions for those who feel isolated.

Want to help calm colleagues? Allow that quick call to be NO CAMERAS and watch (or I guess, listen) how much fun it is.

People don’t need meeting-less Mondays. They need to be allowed to join audio-only.

I hear it a lot. “How do you do it? Be on camera all the time?”

My answer is, I was born this way. For me, I don’t understand pilots! I’m a horrible flyer, it scares the bejeezus out of me and pilots do it daily.

Some love it and some just don’t.

Those who don’t want to stand on the mark and be Zoomed in on shouldn’t have to.

For me, I miss sitting, feet up, doodling on scrap paper while talking through my calls.

This last year and a half has seen video calling normalized, sometimes all but demanded. “Cameras on please” is all too often part of the entry into your calendar.

Not everyone wants a ring light and a #roomrater ready 10/10 backdrop built into their space. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had a guest join me in studio who was absolutely fine – until the little red light went on and they froze. Can we cut some slack for coworkers who simply don’t aspire to be a broadcaster?

It’s not rocket science to offer the solution to just hit the green button and keep the camera off. Just don’t forget to take yourself off mute.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

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