Is there any doubt in-person meetings trump video conferences? There's a reason Sales VPs and CEOs are cautious concerning company travel budgets – studies show a direct correlation between dollars invested in business travel and money coming back in revenue and new profits.
Despite innovations with video conferencing, screensharing and cloud collaboration, face-to-face meetings still win the day. And to be clear, that fact isn't lost on us. We've happily talked about why in-person meetings are a gold standard in communication.
So what does that mean for you? Should you run into your CEO's office and demand that your web conferencing budget is slashed and moved into more business travel?
Probably not – it goes without saying moving to solely in-person meetings would be prohibitively expensive and plainly inconvenient for communicating over a distance on the day-to-day. Instead, the conversation should revolve around bridging the gap – making virtual meetings more like in-person meetings.
Virtual Communication Needs a Nonverbal Component
Decades-old research about nonverbal communication is cited by business bloggers to this day. A breakdown by the Association for Consumer Research provides a quick look at the stats:
- A UCLA study reported 93 percent of the meaning contained in any message is nonverbal
- No more than 30 percent of the meaning in a social exchange is conveyed by words
- Specialists agree about 80 percent of human communication is nonverbal.
One thing that should be noted: these studies were conducted in the 70's, 80's and early 90's. They aren't relics, but the researchers didn't study in the age of email and ubiquitous digital communication.
Regardless, let's consider the research on face value. If so much communication is done nonverbally, then your virtual communication needs a strong nonverbal component. How do you achieve that?
Reliable, Real-time, HD Video
It goes without saying; you have to see your participants. But it's not enough to host just any video conference. There is an incredible amount of nonverbal interaction in a meeting, and that can be lost due to poor video quality or lag created by unreliable internet connectivity. Seeing facial expressions in real-time is critical when judging how participants react to pitches and data.
Shameless plug: this is one of the reasons FoxDen allows presenters to see participants while screensharing.
Choosing a conference call technology with high video quality is key. Internet connectivity may be harder to control. If you're in the exploratory phases of HD video conferencing, consider your bandwidth requirements. Tech Target has a very helpful breakdown for this.
Surprisingly, some reference company culture obstacles over technical obstacles. Communicating solely over audio comes more naturally for some, and moving to video can seem daunting to others.
To those worried about culture shock, refer back to the first paragraph. There's a huge business interest in making virtual interactions more like in-person meetings. Video is a necessary piece of that, regardless of company culture. So, you might consider offering those late adopters some sort of incentive to hold more video calls. After all, there's a lot to gain if your virtual meetings perform just a little bit more like your in-person meetings.