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Technology has completely revolutionized the way we communicate and collaborate. You no longer need to travel miles across oceans to meet a client or supplier, you can now simply use your video conferencing system to conduct a live meeting. It is the closest you can get to meeting someone in person. However, this does not mean videoconferencing can replace face-to-face meetings. There are various reasons why face-to-face meetings are here to stay:

  • Video conferencing lacks detail. Although you can replicate lifelike scenes with high resolution videos, it is nowhere as immersive an experience as it is when you meet face-to-face
  • Simple gestures such as a handshake or a customary physical exchange of business cards are culturally important and help start the meeting on a positive note. There is no way video conferencing can support these actions.
  • You cannot notice the micro expressions and body language as long as you are sharing the same physical space
  • When on a video conference, a part of your concentration tends to get diverted to how good or bad you are looking
  • There are technical complexities of managing video conferences with virtual teams using different devices and networks

Having said this, we cannot deny the fact that there are use cases of video conferencing. In certain types of organizations, video conferencing is used extensively for various reasons. Video conferencing makes sense when:

  • It is not possible to meet in person, but you need some face time to put across your message effectively
  • An international or dispersed group needs to meet
  • There are scheduling conflicts and a face-to-face meeting cannot be organized
  • There is no time to travel for a meeting
  • Situation demands that a group of people from varied locations come together for an urgent brainstorming session
  • You are fine tuning a presentation with a virtual team

Types of organizations where video conferencing is used:

  • In educational institutions video conferencing is used in order to:
  • Bring in subject matter experts from across the world
  • Collaborate with remote classrooms
  • Broadcast administration news and policies
  • Distance learning
  • Record and archive teaching sessions for future playback
  • Virtual field trips
  • Regional staff meetings


  • Collaborate with medical specialists from across the world
  • Administer remote healthcare
  • Broadcast board meetings and news
  • Distance learning


  • International collaboration
  • Vendor and contractor meetings
  • Remote supply chain management and remote quality control
  • Distance learning


  • International collaboration
  • Communication with corporate office
  • Financial earning and other daily updates broadcast
  • Remote customer meetings
  • Monthly/quarterly reviews

Not for profit

  • To expand Outreach without having to travel to rural or remote areas
  • Improve donor pitches to win more contributions


  • To enable testifying witnesses in court without having to actually travel to court
  • Enabling expert witnesses to testify from remote locations
  • Enabling prisoners to see and hear everything that happens in the courtroom, and reducing high-security prisoner travel

While these organizations use video conferencing to save time and money, and to overcome some other situational barriers, but it does not mean video conferencing can work equally well in all organizations. Of course, the factors of cost, time and distance are crucial, but it is important for organizations to weigh them wisely. Face-to-face meetings foster invaluable people skills, which is undeniably the most important part of business.
Remember, while video conferencing allows people to share a connection with each other, the lack of face-to-face puts limits on the amount of connection that can be shared. Without a face-to-face interaction, it is impossible to foster feelings of trust and empathy, which are essential in any successful relationship.

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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.