Con, Geni Whitehouse:
Ever since the emergence of YouTube, it has become hip for people to use videos as a form of communication. But it’s not the first time I have been down this road. A former boss once decided our US team of Product Managers needed to be more connected with our Canadian counterparts who were joining our meetings by conference call. He invested in a TV, equipment, cameras and all of the necessary equipment for both locations. Once a week after the change, we would gather together for our one hour meeting.
Most days, we would spend the first 15 minutes of the meeting waiting for him to mess with the equipment, then he would finally get it to work so we could watch each other rock back and forth in our conference room chairs while we discussed the timeline for the next product rollout. The video, rather than making us more connected, made us all more self-conscious and cost us 15 minutes of valuable meeting time. It added absolutely nothing to the process of sharing mundane information. Occasionally, it would prompt a comment about what someone was wearing at one location or the other but that’s it.
Let’s face it. I’m a CPA. I am a member of a profession with faces made for radio. We just aren’t all that photogenic. What’s worse, I have an annoying tendency to fidget when I am speaking on webinars. I am sure no one wants to watch me do what must look like a bad Michael Fox impersonation during my presentation on Social Media.
One of the nice things about working from home is that you can do your work in your pajamas. Do you really want to see me with mussed up hair, no makeup, and an old bathrobe while I talk about positioning on-line? Somehow I don’t think so.
And, I have been on so many webinars where the technical challenges end up interfering with the message. Adding videos to a Webinar just adds one more thing that can go wrong, it put s a drain on the Internet connection, and lowers the value of what I present.
Give me polling questions, but don’t make me go get Botox so I can be a more effective presenter.
I say no to video!
Pro: Edi Osborne
I, too, have been on the leading/bleeding edge of efforts to enhance long distance communication. Admittedly, the technology often overshadowed the reason for the meeting. However, we’ve come a long way baby . . . as they say, Geni, it is time to get with the “picture”; a voice is not worth a thousand words.
The technology to “meet” on-line has gone from a sort of pay-per-view service via a Web conferencing provider to a natural extension of your personal and business computing capability. Even grandparents, who are often the last hold outs when it comes to adopting new technology, have been among the first to embrace video conferencing. Today’s nuclear (not nucular) family is geographically decentralized making it harder for families to be together on a regular basis. Video conferencing software services like Skype, IChat, IGoogle, Vidmail, plus dozens of others have put the power of family gatherings at all of our fingertips. OK, it may not be real face-to-face and all that comes with that (like hugs, bad breath, uncle Harold’s cigar smell, etc.) but screen face-to-screen face is to voice only is what e-mail has been to faxing.
From a business standpoint, we are so high tech in our approach to communication, putting a face on it, makes it a lot more high touch as well. I value the opportunity to connect visually with my clients. They can see that I am a real person, who actually gets up, showers, and makes an effort to be presentable each day.
I like to see clients’ and prospects’ faces as well since 90 percent of what they are communicating to me doesn’t come through in a voice only connection. Imagine someone editing out 90 percent of what you say – how effectively is your message going to come across in the remaining 10 percent? That’s what voice-only does compared to a video enhanced exchange.
Experts predict that in less than five years, you won’t be able to buy a telephone or computer that isn’t video capable. Looking further out into the future a bit further, surface computing will be built into the architecture of our lives such that you will function virtually side-by-side with others. With every major change in our society the pendulum has swung far and wide. I believe video conferencing is the middle ground between the old paradigm of you must meet with people face-to-face to get anything done and the geographically and physically detached virtual work teams of today.
Video conferencing is already transitioning from a technology to a capability. It won’t be long before video is equated to visual, we won’t even be aware of the technology that facilitates the visual connection.
What are the implications for folks who have become the pajama clad, Howard Hughes-like recluse that working from home can sometimes resemble? You can remain a blank screen while others are showing up for the meeting or you can take a few minutes each day to pull you self together from the neck up and join the conversation. For those that think they have a “face for radio” today’s web cams are very forgiving and you will likely look a bit fuzzy on screen as it is.
I find the video cams take five years off my looks as opposed to regular video that adds 10 pounds. You can’t cling to your fax machine much longer, it’s time for all of us to get with the picture.