Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Video Conferencing Etiquette

    Posted 08-16-2020 09:08 PM

    Now that many meetings and professionals have moved towards an online presence I wanted to start a discussion on video conferencing etiquette (if such a thing exists).

    If you are on a group video call and you're the only one with the camera off do you have to turn it on?
    More importantly, if everyone has their camera off and you started with your camera on, are you allowed to turn your camera off?

    Such an uncertain time and video conference etiquette has only made me more uncertain.

    What are everyone else's thoughts?



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    Daniel Bressler EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Junior Engineer
    Brooklyn NY
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  • 2.  RE: Video Conferencing Etiquette

    Posted 08-17-2020 09:58 AM
    Hi Daniel,

    Great question!

    I think that if everyone has their camera on, it is polite to also turn your camera on; however, there additional things to consider before flipping the switch! For example, I am a private consultant and recently had a phone call scheduled with a client. I wasn't expecting to have our videos on, but when I got in the meeting, my client had her camera on. She was working from her office and nicely dressed. I was working from home and had jumped on the call with messy hair and wearing workout clothes. Plus my breakfast dishes were still sitting on my desk. I decided not to turn my video on because I didn't want to look unprofessional while talking to an important client.

    I have heard of people wearing pj's for a virtual department meeting, and I have been on calls with people wearing t-shirts. Personally, I think, if you are going to have your camera on, dress appropriately. If you wouldn't wear it to the office, don't wear it for a video conference. (with the exception of maybe wearing pajama pants or yoga pants in the case where only your top half is on-screen)

    I also think it is important that people behave like you would in an in-person meeting. For example, if I am in an in-person meeting, I keep my phone out of sight so that I can give my focus to the people in the room. If you are on video, people can see if you are staring at a different screen, working on something else. If you are on a video call where someone else is speaking or presenting, you should give them your focus. I suggest putting the window with the meeting on the same screen as your camera For example, I keep my meetings on my laptop, instead of one of the extra monitors I have hooked up. That way, I am facing the camera when I am looking at the speaker. If you need to open up files to look at something you are actively discussing in the meeting, then that is a little different - and the other participants would likely know what you are doing.

    On another note, if you are setting up a conference call invite, I think it would be polite to mention whether or not you expect to use videos in the meeting. It's nice to have a head's up if you are attending the meeting. That way, you can make yourself and your workspace presentable before you join the call!

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    Kelly Farabee P.E., P.T.O.E., M.ASCE
    President, ASCE Savannah Branch
    Savannah, GA
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  • 3.  RE: Video Conferencing Etiquette

    Posted 08-17-2020 12:45 PM
    Kelly,

    I really like the idea of indicating in the invite whether or not video will be used!

    We've had some meetings set up by a client where we thought it was clear that video would be used, but another consultant just called in with his phone. The entire meeting was a bit of a mess because he couldn't see anything the presenter was trying to show the team.
    On the flip side, while working from home I've rushed around to dress appropriately for a last minute meeting only to hop and and find that we weren't using the cameras. Would have been nice to have clear direction beforehand, for sure.

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    Heidi Wallace EI,P.E.,M.ASCE
    P.E.
    Tulsa OK
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  • 4.  RE: Video Conferencing Etiquette

    Posted 08-26-2020 04:34 PM
    In our group, we only turn video on during social events. Other than that we use voice only to save network bandwidth :).

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    Tung Nguyen, PhD
    Jacobs, Water Resources Engineer
    Sacramento, CA
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  • 5.  RE: Video Conferencing Etiquette

    Posted 16 days ago
    Now that about two years has passed since this topic was posted, I wonder if anyone has made any changes in their habits?
    I still think the nuances of digital culture and manners are funny this far into having remote meetings. The unnecessary complexities of my own habits in these rituals is not lost on me.

    • I keep my camera on in all client meetings and most internal group meetings, particularly when I know someone else on the call prefers it.
    • Any meeting I run, I tend to keep my camera on, unless every other person decides to turn theirs off.
    • If another person starts a one on one meeting with me, I will start with my camera on. If they have their camera off, I will likely move to match them.
    • If I'm a small player on a call with many people, I don't feel the need to have my camera on.  

    My actual preference is camera off, as I think it lets me focus 100% on my ability to participate and not spend 10% of my brain trying to make sure I don't yawn or put on an ugly face by accident. My end goal is to be as engaged as possible without being distracting.

    (I've seen people take calls from their car or bike with their cameras on. It is very impressive but I will admit I also tend to focus on them, wondering if I am going to witness an accident in real time)

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    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer
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  • 6.  RE: Video Conferencing Etiquette

    Posted 10 days ago
    Chris,

    I also prefer no video for myself. I find that I am distracted, and I also have people walking in my background a lot. When I'm reading what they have on the screen, I don't want that expression to be misinterpreted as making a face at the speaker. In an in-person meeting it is obvious when someone is reading a handout vs looking at the speaker, but that is lost on the screen.

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    Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE
    Tulsa, OK
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