It has been suggested that video (rather a lack of video/television appearance) costed Nixon the election back in 1960. At the time, people didn’t realize or understand the visual impact of the new medium: television. The visuals that video provide help establish a “connection” between between people. And it doesn’t just impact politicians and their campaigns, it also impacts business professionals and productive meetings; especially when it comes to first-time introductions.
Video conferencing is a frequently used tool for making initial introductions between two businesses or two parties that are not in geographical proximity. It “connects” multiple parties from anywhere in the world, allows them to share information and knowledge, and gives them the ability to “meet” regardless of their physical location. But this also means that in many cases, first impressions are developed over video conferencing.
We all know that first impressions matter…this cannot be denied. Therefore, the goal of any business professional is to give a good first impression. When things go wrong with video conferencing (which they frequently do), this negatively impacts first impressions. Distortions and delays that are caused by technology glitches are far too often perceived as flaws in the person, or business, rather than flaws in the technology.
Additionally, these video conferencing glitches can be frustrating for the viewers. One of the most frustrating glitches during video conferencing occurs when the audio does not visually match the speaker’s lips. This is not something that goes unnoticed; it becomes the elephant in the room, and everyone deals with the frustration internally and silently…until it becomes so bad and so frustrating that it can no longer be ignored. At this point, everyone begins to scramble, trying to troubleshoot the dilemma, and not giving their undivided attention to the others on the screen.
At this point, it is both parties of the meeting that are negatively affected by call. Research, presented in The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Television and New Media Like Real People and Places, shows that out-of-sync lips makes people come across as being less trustworthy and less believable. Again, this is not an impression one wants to give when conducting business.
If poor impressions aren’t enough as it is, problems with video conferencing can result in delayed meetings and unproductive collaboration. So much time and energy is put towards solving technical problems, that an hour-long meeting turns into 40 minutes.
Despite all of these problems with video conferencing, we cannot simply do away with it. Doing this, would be just like Nixon not making his appearance on TV. Instead, businesses should explore new and more productive alternatives.