The first time it happened, Anne didn't say anything. I knew she was annoyed, though, and wondered how she was going to handle this situation.
Here's the scenario ... we are meeting on Zoom. There are sixteen participants, five on the "vendor" side and eleven on the "client" side. While all of the vendor team members have their video on, none of the client participants do.
Anne had told me that before COVID, she was "that person"; the one who wouldn't appear on camera. Instead, she would put a colored sticky over the camera and tell the group, "I am having a (fill in the blank colour, e.g., purple, green, pink, blue) day!"
"It didn't occur to me that it was actually quite rude. I am always camera-ready, but I did it because I could. I am embarrassed to admit that I behaved rudely, and if you were the recipient, please accept my apology," Anne explained.
"Today, when video conferencing is the norm, we all need to show up! And you know I have been on a crusade to get my women colleagues to wear red lipstick as a sign of optimism, resilience, and defiance in this time of COVID!"
When I asked Anne what she was going to do about the situation with the client team who didn't "show up" on camera for our meeting, she told me she was thinking about it, and it would depend on what happened the next time.
So, when the next meeting day arrived, and sure enough, none of the client participants showed up on camera, I was holding my breath to see what would happen.
Anne smiled directly into her own camera as she said to the client team, "I have noticed that none of you turn your cameras on, and I am wondering if there is some organizational policy preventing you from showing up for our meetings?"
There was silence.
No one said a word, but one by one, all of the cameras came on.
Then Anne said, "There you are, good morning! It's so good to see you. Now we can move forward and collaborate more effectively, instead of us feeling like we are on the hot seat, being interrogated."
Then she turned to one of her colleagues and asked that they kick off the meeting with the latest update.
If you didn't know before, you know now. In today's world and likely for the foreseeable future, it's rude not to turn your camera on if you are driving or have an unstable internet connection or some other solid reason not to turn your camera on, best to apologize to the others and provide an explanation for not showing up!