It's Time to Elevate your Conferencing Tools
For years, companies relied on an in-room or remote audio conferencing system to gather employees for important meetings. A high quality audio connection remains arguably the most vital component to holding a productive meeting; however, in 2019 and beyond, organizations should strive to make optimal employee engagement a goal, which means video conferencing should now be your corporate standard.
A study by Wainhouse Research shows that 94 percent of respondents agree that live streaming video makes online presentations more engaging. At least half of survey takers 49 and younger strongly agree that video is a vehicle for greater engagement. Lastly, 81 percent want their organization to do more with video technologies to enhance communication.
To summarize, the overwhelming majority of respondents want video to be the predominant communication tool in their organization. It’s time to upgrade.
Video Conferencing Promotes More Engaged Meeting Attendees
Audio-only conferencing certainly had its pluses – especially for a camera-shy employee base. However, the younger generation of employees has become accustomed to video and is more willing to view and be on camera and video conferencing has become more accessible for all employees. Previously joining a video conference was contingent on having access to a video conferencing unit (VCU), often housed in a formal conference room. But in recent years formal conference rooms have given way to smaller, video-enabled huddle spaces that promote on-the-fly video collaboration with office-based and remote teams; and, even more employees connect to video conferences using integrated laptop webcams or smartphones.
With audio conferencing, it was easy for users to log on late, mute out, and detach. There was little that could be done to gauge audience interest in the programming. Attendees who know they have the potential to be on camera are far more likely to show up early, stay focused and walk away remembering the information they gleaned.
In audio-only conferences, message delivery relied wholly on the talent of the speaker and the session performance of the platform/connectivity. A dull presenter could doom your call as well as jitter or latency on the line. With web and video conferencing, you have a type of failover where users can absorb the message through visual cues in the speaker’s body language or the visual aids such as PowerPoint slides. And when web or video conferences incorporate tools like the Cisco Webex Board, office-based and remote teams can collaborate in real time with two-way whiteboarding.
Meeting Moderation Made Easy with Video Conferencing
Trying to moderate an audio call with multiple panelists dialing in from remote locations could get dicey as well. Hosts would have great difficulty knowing who wanted to jump in to comment. Even worse, it was hard to get a natural flowing debate going.
Remote attendees also would have a hard time getting their questions answered, especially if they had to interrupt the speakers to do so. Many systems cut out one speaker if another tried to talk, making it impossible to hear either clearly. Web and video conferences often have multiple mechanisms for audience participation, including question submission, chat rooms with moderators, and dashboards that show who is trying to speak. All of this makes meetings more interactive, engaging and productive.
Garnering feedback in audio conferences was a daunting challenge. You could pause and wait for attendees to jump in, but oftentimes they muted their line so that extraneous sounds such as a dog barking or baby crying didn’t interrupt the main audio. By the time people realized they were being called upon to participate, the presenter had lost momentum.
The Next Best Thing to Meeting Live and In Person
Face-to-face video conferencing enables attendees to experience a level playing field where everyone enjoys the same access to information. Everyone sees the same slides, watches the same clips, views the same speaker body language, and absorbs the same message. If a CFO is delivering bad news about quarterly results, all employees, no matter where they are accessing the video conference from, experience the event in the same way. Nothing is lost in translation to those outside of the room.
And let’s not forget to mention the quality of audio playbacks. All the stuff that was distracting when the conference was recorded is often amplified in playback mode. Without the peer pressure of live attendance, it is easy to tune out pre-recorded audio conferences.
Conferencing remains a large part of corporate communications strategies. But it’s time to elevate our processes and move past audio-only conferencing into the realm of web and video. The gains of having your team on the same page will be the ROI you need to make the change.
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