Video conferencing is rapidly gaining popularity and it is not surprising. In essence, video conferencing allows people to communicate in real time, no matter where they are. It can be as few as two people or thousands. Participants can hold a meeting or conference, compare charts, and generally do everything they could do if they were all in the same room together. All of this is done through streaming audio and video through the wonders of the internet.
The list of benefits to using video conferencing is long, but some of the main benefits are listed below. The most obvious benefit is the huge savings that come with when people don’t need to travel. An average business trip generally involves spending at least one night elsewhere, and the costs incurred include flights, transportation, meals, lodging, entertainment, and the list goes on. If you need ten people in a meeting and you add up all the costs involved, the total is staggering.
Remember also that traveling is not only expensive, it takes time. So those ten executives have to take two days out of their busy schedule, for example, to attend a mid-day meeting at the head office. With video conferencing, they can allocate half a day and spend the other day and a half doing productive work in their office. The use of video conferencing provides great savings in both money and time.
If the video conference involves a person or team giving a presentation, it is in your home environment. Therefore, they cannot accidentally leave the most important graphic on their desk in the office; they have everything available. It also means that questions can be fully answered, rather than the presenter having to return to their office before they can access the required information.
Video conferencing also makes it easy for companies to access external experts. In a medical setting, for example, researchers from around the world can meet regularly and compare notes, making it easier to share their findings and speed up the process of finding answers. This kind of collaboration would never happen if experts had to constantly travel to stay up-to-date, because they would never have time to do their research. Cooperation at this level is not only beneficial to the medical profession; it can be used in almost any profession you can think of.
A slightly less direct but equally beneficial benefit is that employees will need to learn the basics of presentation skills and research in order to participate productively in video conferences. This encourages the employee to stay up-to-date with information related to their field, so that they are sure they can answer questions during a video conference if necessary.
Video conferencing is also much more personal than a conference call. A high percentage of our communication is done through non-verbal signals, so seeing the person making a presentation can give us much more information. It also means that visual aids can be used, which speeds up the process of explaining certain types of information. No need to wait while a set of graphics is published, faxed, or even e-mailed and printed; you can see them instantly. And if additional information is required, it can be extracted from the file and displayed, without the need for any delay. If you use video conferencing to deal with a potential customer, it is much easier to develop a personal relationship, which is an important element in any business relationship.
Video conferencing also means that all the necessary people can be present at the meeting. Previously, expense considerations may have meant that only one employee was allowed to attend a certain meeting and, upon return, they informed everyone else about what was happening. This inevitably left gaps in feedback, as no one person would assimilate everything that happened, not even know that a particular piece of information was of special importance to another member of staff. Video conferencing means that everyone hears and sees everything, and can extract the information that is most relevant to them. They also have a personal idea of the other people involved in the conference.
There is no doubt that companies will quickly turn to video conferencing once the many benefits become clearer. The potential for businesses is huge, and as technology improves and prices fall, video conferencing will become a business standard like the fax machine or personal computer.