Dec 14 2023

Camera On, Mic On

At my last company, we used to occasionally attend a giant meeting at one of the large ISPs — Microsoft, Yahoo, and the like — and it always annoyed me to be presenting to or engaging in a discussion with a room full of a dozen people and having all of them there with their laptops open, clearly distracted and doing other work.

I’m increasingly finding annoyance with the Zoom equivalent, which is being in a meeting or attending a presentation, but turning off your mic and camera.

It’s impossible to know as the person leading the meeting or speaking if you’re actually there. And if you’re there, if you’re paying attention. And how many times in a meeting can we hear “Joe, you’re on mute”?

We do occasionally invite people to lurk at meetings intentionally. Maybe a meeting is really long, it contains a range of topics, some are going to be relevant for a given person and some aren’t. We explicitly note that it’s ok to “Bolster down” (as we call it) for a given meeting, and just turn on your camera and mic if you want to be in the conversation, otherwise, the assumption is you’re half listening and multitasking, and you can be asked specifically to “Bolster up” at any time.

But otherwise, if a meeting is worth going to, or if a small group presentation is worth going to, leave your camera on, and unless you have a dog barking, a baby crying, or a lawnmower humming in the background, leave your mic on. In other words…

Be present.