Video conferencing is becoming an ever more important means of corporate communications. And with many companies restricting business travel due to rapidly rising travel and lodging costs, the adoption of video conferencing is increasing at record rates. Not everyone, however, is comfortable with this still fairly new means of communication, and some training may be required to take full advantage of the technology.
There are two major roadblocks to efficient use of video conferencing. The first is people not being comfortable with it, and the second people not taking video conferencing seriously because, after all, they are not "there." The first problem requires training and practice, the second a set of rules and guidelines. So let's see how we can best negotiate those roadblocks.
Video Conferencing Angst
Video conferencing angst describes the feeling many people get when they are confronted with people on a screen looking back at them and talking to them. This is an interesting phenomenon. While people have no problem having a conversation with a disembodied voice in a headset, they may clam up or feel uncomfortable when they do something much more natural - talking with people they can actually see. People stricken with this sort of anxiety may stare at the screen, avoid eye contact, or avoid video conferences altogether. Fortunately, for most video conferencing phobes, getting over the uneasiness and awkwardness is simply a matter of practice. Set up some training sessions in a relaxed setting without pressure and with people they already know, and most will quickly become comfortable with the technology.
Video Conferencing Etiquette
Most people know phone etiquette and meeting etiquette, but not everyone seems to know (or observe) video conference etiquette. While being on time, being prepared, and paying attention are the norm for phone calls and person-to-person meetings, some people do not follow those common sense, common courtesy rules when video conferencing. Just like using a Blackberry or walking off to use a cell phone during a meeting reduces productivity and disrupts the flow of the meeting, those same transgressions are equally unacceptable in video conferencing. If this is a problem, managers and supervisors need to bring it to the attention of individuals who do not follow etiquette. What works even better is setting up periodic meetings to review video conferencing issues, including rules, use, issues and etiquette.
Why is it important to tackle these issues? In the case of video conferencing "angst" because employees who shy away from video conferencing not only hurt their own career path, they also hurt overall efforts to use the technology to its best advantage. In the case of poor videoconferencing etiquette, transgressors can hurt their company by leaving poor impressions with other conference participants and by making the conferences less efficient than they could be. Either syndrome results in under utilizing a potentially terrific productivity tool.
Video conferencing can cut costs and improve communication but, like any other technology, it must be used properly. That means effectively dealing with holdouts and setting reasonable rules.
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Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing companies.
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