Video conferencing is similar to the popular video phones where you can call anyone around the world and not only speak with them, but see them on your computer or television screen during the conversation. The difference is that video conferencing is intended to work for larger conferences rather than serving the needs of individual consumers, often using closed circuit television.
While many businesses have taken this technology under wing as a useful tool, there are advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing which must be considered before you decide if it will work for your meeting needs or not.
1. Reach anyone you need to reach immediately, no matter what time of day it may be for anyone involved. Time differences between states and countries can be overlooked without anyone traveling long distances for the conference.
2. While a phone call may suffice for two people who need to have a short conversation, web-based conferencing allows large rooms of people at different locations to interact with one another effectively. Ten business execs in Amsterdam can easily interact with five others in New York and two in Tokyo to create a full conference with everyone able to see and hear perfectly.
3. PowerPoint and other visual displays can be shared with everyone attending the conference at the same time, giving the feel of everyone being in one room and keeping everyone on task and focused.
4. Virtual whiteboards allow people from different locations to add in their own thoughts or ideas into one collaborative space. This enables everyone to form a plan of action or collaborate on a design or slogan instantly.
5. It is possible, with some services, for everyone to gain access to another computer, seeing whatever is on that computer screen. With more advanced services, a document can even be changed and typed into directly from other computers connected into the conference. Businesses that require active collaboration on one project form can be greatly enhanced with this possibility.
1. The price may be the biggest drawback for some people, though there are very cheap options if you do not require the more advanced features. Usually, a business that can make good use of the more advanced features often finds that the money they save flying clients or employees around the country or world more than makes up for the cost of the service provider. As fuel becomes more of an issue around the world, the price becomes less of a disadvantage and more of an advantage.
2. There are some human ways of communicating that do not translate very well over a distance, such as eye contact. When you sit in the same room with someone and listen to a speech or presentation you will make eye contact and they will judge who is paying attention by looking around the room. Much of this contact is not easily delivered through a webcam.
The advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing have to be weighed against your purpose and whether there will be something valuable lost through this technology that you don’t want to give up.