As we approach 2 years of intensive virtual meetings, the debate about cameras on or cameras off still rages on. This is especially true with virtual training and I’ve had numerous debates about requiring cameras for attendees.
As a trainer, I can give a better delivery if I can ‘feed’ off those attending the course. This includes questions and debates but also facial expressions and body language. One of the most challenging things in the virtual training world is training a group of “circles” where everyone had their cameras off, as you loose that visual feedback.
Yet, when you look at it from the other perspective, it can be even more draining to be on camera all day, especially when you have to look at yourself too and are aware that the other course attendees are watching you too. Plus those other attendees can be very distracting when you want to focus on the presenter.
Fortunately Microsoft Teams has several new features coming which will help improve the situation for all parties.
Hide your own camera
Unless you enjoy looking at yourself, seeing your own camera feed in meetings can be very draining and distracting. This update, due Jan, will allow you to hide your video. The only issue may be that you forget you are on camera, so look out for the visual indicator (a cropped part of your own video image) which will show that your camera is on which will roll out with this new feature.
Manage what attendees see
This update is due January 2022 and, although full details are to be confirmed, should allow us to limit attendees to viewing specified presenters and shared content. Hopefully presenters will still be able to see anyone who is allowed to share their camera.
I am concerned this feature will not go far enough and I would like the ability to set meeting options to hide all attendee cameras but not disable them. Hence I added this feedback item
Virtual Reality Meeting and Avatars
Microsoft Mesh will bring virtual reality meetings and avatars to Microsoft Teams. You can read more about it in this article.
I think the avatars, especially, will be very helpful in the virtual training space. For the days when you do not want to be camera ready, your avatar will mimic your movements and facial expressions. Whilst this wont give the same visual feedback as a proper video it is better than no faces and will help remove some of the pressure and anxiety being on camera continuously can cause.
If you are an iPad or iPhone user, try out the Memoji video messages to get an idea of how avatars can reflect a person’s reactions and expressions. More info on Memojis is in this help guide.