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Maximum economy, minimum distance. Video conferencing does the trick.

Feb 04, 2009

In the depressed economic environment of 2009, video conferencing is recognized as a method with huge potential for helping businesses meet their challenges, cut their costs, improve productivity and minimize their environmental impact.

Compared with the use of the traditional telephone or documents as a means of communication, video conferencing can help minimize conflicts caused by individual or cultural differences. Also it can increase employees' desire to communicate and to further educate themselves. Psychologists say that trust between people working in teams at a distance from each other is a very large factor, and that video conferencing and similar technology can help scattered team members preserve close contact and build mutual trust. Furthermore, recent research has estimated that by the end of 2009 there will be more than nine million people using remote or portable offices as a working model.

Albert Mehrabian of the University of California has spent ten years researching how people communicate. From his research it appears that in human communication a mere 7% is purely verbal, 40% comes from what we hear as tone of voice, and 53% comes from visual cues. In other words, if you have no visual cues and are merely dependant on words, you have a fifty percent chance of misunderstanding. During a video conference, the subtle nods and smiles of the other party can play a tremendous part in creating interest and intimacy in the dialogue. At the same time, this demonstrates that conference participants can easily be distracted when using the telephone for conferencing or communication, and lose interest in following or participating in the discussion.  We can feel quite strongly, during a telephone conversation, the way a pause might indicate disagreement, boredom, calculation or even agreement or a huge number of other unknown factors, but during a video conference people can see very clearly what the reason for a pause must be. A report has pointed out that video conferencing can have a very positive impact on employees of very varying personality types and social positions. The report considered six types of personnel and compared the differing effects of telephone and audio visual communication. For example:

Leaders and decision makers: in normal circumstances conferences are convened by these people. Visual information helps the conference participants see that the leaders exist. The participants can also see the whole conference, but during the course of the conference the debate is mainly carried on by the participants and the leaders rarely take part in heated debate, very often they just listen respectfully and use a few visual gestures to encourage their employees to get on with the debate.

Brilliant talkers who are easily distracted: these kinds of employees can produce short bursts of energy and enthusiasm and talk very brilliantly, but they are easily distracted. Video conferencing can provide them with a very stimulating environment and improve their concentration and participation.

Thoughtful conservative types: the quiet thoughtful type who likes to sink into deep thought. Via visual cues, these personnel can reduce the possibility that other participants think they are merely absent-minded.

Optimistic extroverts: these types will strike up a conversation with anyone, and can easily divert a conference from its original topic.  In a video conference they can tell from the visual cues when the time has come to stop talking and they won't need the other participants to tell them to shut up.

Creative and positive types: these employees are characterized by rich creativity and ability to promote fresh thinking. The ability of video conferencing to promote close communication can stimulate the latent potential of these personnel even more and provide them with a forum for activity.

Stubborn realists: these down-to-earth realists are extremely stubborn about what they see as reality and generally hostile towards a lot of fresh thinking, which can make conference participants feel as though they are deliberately making trouble. Video conferencing can provide visual information for them and help them to listen respectfully to their colleagues and formulate their objections precisely so that the other conference participants realize they are not being deliberately obstructive.

We can see from this that video conferencing can play an active part in leading all types of team members towards closer communication and a healthy group spirit which is a necessary precondition for success in any business. Nowadays there are many enterprises that have a very sensible attitude to investing in video conferencing because it can bridge cultural gaps and help cooperative team activity thus helping the team achieve success. This is especially important in companies where there are different social hierarchies, physical locations or nationalities involved.

The reasons why video conferencing is a factor in success are the same as the reasons why any conference can be a factor, it affects personal feelings, team management methods and the way in which a group can create an effective atmosphere for conferences and discussions. At the same time, we can observe some of the most successful video conferencing systems such as the V2 Conference video conferencing software which groups such as Coca Cola (China), Guizhou Maotai Group, Wal-Mart, Guangming Furniture, Galanz, Beijing Gangwan Networks, Capitol Steel and Iron, Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co, Petrochina Management Department, Digital China, DHL, Dalian Wanda Group, Nanfang Media Group have vied with each other to install, persistently engaged in researching conferencing systems technology, client requirements, user psychology so as to maximize the use of video technology and use the clearest possible video technology to allow participants to communicate freely as though unaware of the distance that separates them. It is reported that the V2 Technology ( V2 Conference system has been approved by many companies and that during the process of a conference it can help leaders, customers and subordinates understand each other clearly, and is perceived by customers as a highly cost-effective investment.