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How’s my lighting? What about my background? Am I sitting 30 inches from the camera? Have I raised the camera high enough so it’s at, or slightly above, my eye level? Oh no, I’m having a bad hair day. Can you relate to any of these? With most of us working from home, I’m guessing the answer is a resounding “yes!” So, let’s address your burning question, “Should we use webcams in virtual training?”
According to The State of Virtual Training 2020 Survey, by Cindy Huggett, 2020 seemed to be the year of the video. In the survey, 870 responses came in from around the globe and the results were as follows:
- 66% of respondents said they were using webcams more often.
- 83% of facilitators said they were using webcams, 48% the entire time and 36% for at least part of the class.
Let’s talk about the pros:
Well, we’re showing our learners there is a live friendly person on the other end, and it can be very helpful if teaching communication skills or demonstrating something. Others will argue that webcams increase engagement, make the event more personal, and allow learners to connect with the facilitator.
But what are the cons?
Growing research has shown that constant use of the webcams causes increased mental fatigue. We also know that using video will increase the amount of bandwidth and slow the connection speed, both of which can have a negative impact on the session. It can also create lag time for your learners’ screens to catch up with the instructor’s, causing a disconnect between learners and the content being presented. Finally, ask yourself, “How much value is there in watching a talking head for the entire session?”
Here’s a great compromise:
Turn your webcam on briefly, introduce yourself, and then turn it off. Turn it on again, as needed, throughout the session. Or show a photo of yourself at the beginning of the session so learners can make that connection.
At Langevin, we’ve been conducting virtual training since 2013, without the use of webcams. We prefer to make the workshop as interactive and as performance based as possible. We keep our classes small, up to a maximum of 15 attendees, to ensure learners feel less isolated and more connected throughout. We also leverage the tools in our virtual platform, such as polls, feedback icons, chat, private chat, annotation tools, and breakout rooms. This way, we’re able to maximize engagement, read the group, and get their feedback.
I imagine this debate will continue and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the topic. Until then, I don’t have to worry about bandwidth or a bad hair day!
For even more tips on how to excel as a virtual trainer, check out Langevin’s The Virtual Trainer workshop. We’ll build your confidence and help you create that “wow factor” as a virtual trainer.