Video has a multitude of applications in the professional world and we use it all the time. If a picture is worth a thousand words (or at least it used to be), a video call is worth…more. I’ve always maintained that being there makes all the difference – that is in person front and center. If meeting in person is not possible, then a call is better than a text or email.
But what about video calling? Why has it not become a more prevalent business tool? This week I had a client ask if I could FaceTime so she could show me something. I have an iPad mini, so I agreed, and we had a nice 10 minute conversation where I could see her, she could see me and she could show me a few things that she wanted me to see. It was easy and effective. And I don’t know when I will do that again. Isn’t that strange?
Video conferencing services (think Skype, Google Hangouts, What’sApp, Zoom.us, Join.me and what used to be oovoo.com) have improved greatly over the past few years and they can be used when getting together in person is not practical but we at least want to see the people with whom we are speaking. It’s different – and in my view better – than a standard phone conference call.
I’ve been working for quite a few years and before email you had to A) call people on the phone, B) go to see them in person, or C) send them postal mail and later an overnight letter. So why aren’t video calls more popular?
Well one reason may be is that millennials (supposedly) prefer to text or IM rather than talk on the phone. So naturally when it comes to professional meetings and relationships there’d be a reticence to embrace video calling in general. Millennial salespeople in general are the grand exception.
Another reason is that after years of NOT having video calls (something you saw in movies growing up), many people (me included) don’t want to have a camera on them while having a conversation. I am sure you’ve seen video of the guy with the shirt and tie on camera who after the call stands up and is in his basketball shorts which nobody saw on the call. Old-fashioned telephone calls do not present that problem.
How much of a role does personal vanity play in the aversion to video calls? When you have a telephone conference call you are not at all concerned with how you look. But when a video-conference call is on the schedule most people at least give a passing thought to their attire and appearance. In time I expect familiarity with video calling will make that aversion less of an issue.
Another issue with video calls is that the participants must be fully focused on the call as they are visible to others. In a typical phone call, you can and most people do multi-task, whether that be reading your email, looking at the internet, writing a list, all while participating in the call. If you’re on a video call, you must be fully focused on the conversation.
Will video-calling ever be the default? I’ve always thought so but also thought that I’d be one of the early users. I am less sure of that now. How about you?