Video conferencing is rapidly gaining popularity, and that’s hardly surprising. Basically, video conferencing allows people to communicate in real time no matter where they are. It can be as little as two people, or it can be thousands. Participants can hold a meeting or conference, compare charts, and generally do anything they could do if they were all in the same room together. This is all done via audio and video transmission through the wonders of the internet.
The list of benefits that come from using video conferencing is long, but here are some of the key benefits. The most obvious benefit is the huge savings that come with not having people travel. The average business trip typically involves at least one night’s accommodation elsewhere, and the costs involved include flights, transportation, meals, lodging, entertainment and more. If you need ten people for a meeting and add up all the costs involved, the total is staggering.
Also remember that traveling is not only expensive but also takes time. For example, the ten executives have to take two days out of their busy schedules to attend a half-day meeting at headquarters. With video conferencing, they can split half the day and spend the other day and a half doing productive work in their office. Both money and time can be saved by using video conferencing.
In the video conference, when a person or team is giving a presentation, they are in their home environment. This way, you can’t accidentally leave the most important graphic on your desk in the office – you have everything immediately to hand. It also means that questions can be fully answered, rather than the presenter having to return to their office before accessing the information they need.
Video conferences also make it easier for companies to access external experts. In the medical environment, for example, researchers from all over the world can meet and exchange information on a regular basis, which makes it easier to combine their findings and speeds up the process of answering. This kind of collaboration would never happen if the experts had to travel constantly to keep up to date because they never had time for their research. Collaboration at this level is not only beneficial for the medical profession; it can be used in almost any job imaginable.
A slightly less direct benefit, but an advantage nonetheless, is that employees must learn the basics of presentation skills and research in order to participate productively in video conferences. This encourages the employee to keep up to date with information related to their area, so they can be sure that they can answer questions during a video conference if necessary.
Video conferencing is also much more personal than a conference call. A high percentage of our communication is via non-verbal cues. So if we see the person making a presentation, we can get so much more information. It also means that visual aids can be used, which speeds up the process of explaining certain types of information. You don’t have to wait while a series of charts is posted, faxed, or even emailed and printed – you can see them right away. And if additional information is needed, it can be pulled from the file and displayed without delay. When you use video conferencing to negotiate with a potential client, it becomes much easier to build a personal relationship, which is an important element in any business relationship.
Video conferencing also means that all required people can be present at the meeting. In the past, due to cost reasons, only one employee could attend a specific meeting and inform everyone else about the procedure when they returned. This inevitably left gaps in the feedback as no one took in everything that was happening or even knew that a particular piece of information was of particular importance to another employee. Video conferencing means everyone can hear and see everything and extract the information that is most relevant to them. You also get a personal feel for the others involved in the conference.
There is no doubt that companies will be quick to adopt video conferencing once the numerous benefits become more apparent. The business potential is enormous, and as technology improves and prices fall, video conferencing is becoming as standard in business as the fax machine or personal computer.