Audio Conferencing: Is Video Necessary?

When audio conferencing first came to the market, it revolutionized the way individuals and businesses communicated with each other and quickly became a staple of conference rooms all over the world. When videoconferencing first came to market, in contrast, it immediately fizzled out. Since the initial videoconferencing machines were extremely expensive, difficult to operate, and only capable of connecting to a limited number of devices, businesses didn’t feel a pressing need to upgrade.

But now that videoconferencing is a lot more practical than it was in the 1970s, it’s finally threatening to make audio conferencing obsolete. This raises the question: Is videoconferencing really such a huge improvement over audio-only conferences? For decades, people have managed to collaborate remotely without seeing the faces of the other people on the call. Is having the added element of video really such a game changer?

Here are 5 reasons why the combination of audio and video trumps audio only.

VISUAL AIDS

Firstly, and most obviously, by relying on just audio, you lack the ability to use visual aids. This could include anything from slideshow presentations, whiteboards, flip charts, photos, and so on. For many, this can be quite limiting and if an organization were to use just an audio platform, you would have to be very precise with what you are saying to eliminate the risk of misinterpretation or to successfully communicate facts and figures.

HUMAN INTERACTION

By implementing videoconferencing, you are instantly encouraging real human connections. Very similar to face-to-face conversations, it’s much easier to gauge people’s reactions and tone of voice when using a video platform, something that is much more difficult to do when using just audio. This makes virtual meetings a lot more intimate, adding a fresh and authentic feel to discussions.

ROOM FOR MISINTERPRETATION

When exchanging ideas in a videoconference, as said above, it’s much easier to communicate with individuals as you become aware of body language, unspoken gestures, all alongside the ability to read the other people in the meeting, making conversation less emotionless and bland whilst massively decreasing the risk of misinterpretation.

CONCENTRATION

Think back a few years ago. Sitting at a desk with your designated microphone, listening in to what people have to say, making your inputs here and there, gaining more and more awareness that you are sitting in room talking to someone who isn’t actually there. By just using an audio package, you run the risk of capping productivity. Nobody wants to sit in a room and just listen. Concentration decreases over time, once again risking misunderstanding or misinformation. With video aids, concentration is brought back into the meeting rooms, allowing individuals to engage multiple senses and remain aware.

COST

One of the most effective and cost-efficient ways for businesses to communicate is by telephone or audio conferencing. Remaining affordable, it is still used by businesses of all sizes around the world. By using a videoconferencing package, depending on the size of your organization, the solution can be very expensive and if implemented incorrectly or unnecessarily, it may cost you much more than you anticipated. (Luckily, there are plenty of options out there like Skype For Business that are much more affordable than the higher end packages).

For the most part, videoconferencing can revolutionize the way businesses work and opens opportunities for companies to act globally. When looking for a conferencing solution that fits your needs, it’s important to do your research and monitor what your personal situation requires.

ADDITIONAL READING
Can You Hear Me? What About Now?: How to Pick a Conference Room Microphone
Meeting Room Setup in 1 Day
Conference Room Design: A Guide For the Perplexed

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