Occasionally, after a full day of barely looking up from the computer screen, I realize that the same technology that lets us connect more easily – like email – has also stifled a big part of the human element of communication. A simple phone call with another live person can be downright refreshing after reading and writing hundreds of messages.
But just as the finer subtleties of conversation can get lost in email, there are lots of nonverbal communication cues that can be lost over a phone call – especially when more than two people are participating in the conversation. Body language, gestures, and facial expressions are important elements of face-to-face communication. However, meeting in person is just not always possible or practical in today’s business world.
Videoconferencing can be useful to both large and small companies for many reasons– saving time and money by avoiding travel, making meetings more productive, and even reducing your carbon footprint. There are lots of providers to choose from, depending on your budget and the features you need.
For example, WebEx offers all the “basics” of videoconferencing and allows screen sharing of presentations or applications and up to 6 webcams at once. It supports both dial-in and VoIP for the voice component of the call.
· Other vendors like Tandberg offer a range of products, from their Movi PC-based solution for smaller businesses, to dedicated room-based video systems with HD video (like what you’d see in a large corporate location).
· Skype and Gmail video chat are free and don’t require anything more than a small software download and a webcam, and can be a great solution for internal communications where you don’t need the highest of video quality (where you might if you were doing a client presentation).
· And for the truly mobile professional, WebEx has recently begun supporting its service on 3G and 2G cell phones.
Keep in mind that just like in-person meetings, there are etiquette rules for videoconferencing as well – check out these suggestions from ooVoo.
If used properly, videoconferencing can be the next-best thing to being there.
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