Last week we highlighted the popularity of video conferencing as a useful form of communication within businesses. For many companies it is an essential tool for linking different components of a business and putting faces in places.

It turns out that 76% of people sampled said that they used video conferencing to communicate within their workforce and bridge a gap that often proves troublesome as a business expands geographically.

In fact, part of the success of web conferencing has to be owed to one thing: the global economy. It is now very common for medium-sized companies to have offices in more than one country. For larger companies, huge amounts of money can be saved by avoiding flight expenses from far flung corners of the Earth, such as Bangladesh (…they know who they are).

Alongside cost, there are several other advantages of implementing an effective video conferencing set-up within a business. Some of these include:

Effective communication

The relentless stream of seemingly irrelevant mail that surges into our inbox every morning can begin to mean less and less. Certainly, even important mail is skim read in order to reach the holy grail of ‘no new messages’ by mid-morning.

Which is why video conferencing can play a crucial role in communicating key messages throughout a company more effectively. Trials suggest that around 80% of communication between people is non-verbal, instead we rely on visual prompts and body language; another score for team video.

Using conferencing in this manner helps to get everybody working in the same direction far more quickly.

Maintaining a competitive advantage

Encouraging video communication is the only way of keeping ahead of the competition. It is far too powerful to ignore. Giving all staff access to a reliable video network will equip them for the world of business and commerce in the best way possible. The markets won’t wait for e-mails and customers won’t wait for Postman Pat to finally get round to finding his cat and eventually your address later on in the week (at least that’s how slow traditional mail feels now).

Video lets members of a company communicate in real-time, informing good decisions and reducing the chances of misunderstandings and overlooked mail. Business runs more smoothly this way and so will lunch with the boss.

The Future of video-conferencing

Systems company Cisco have seen a sliding trend in their video- conferencing sales but don’t think they will go away quietly. Earlier this week they announced a billion dollar spending spree on cloud technology; so they’re clearly not struggling for cash. The chances are that a new and improved version of their TelePresence technology will be released in the next few months with a lower and more competitive price-tag. This system effectively merges two conference rooms into one using sharp 1080p video streaming and thoughtful acoustic planning. One to watch out for.

Cisco's current TelePresence technology in action

Cisco’s current TelePresence technology in action

For flexibility, Polycom offer some fantastic solutions. Their mobile technology allows multi-point conversation on the fly for users with smart phones and tablets.

Going mobile with Polycom

Going mobile with Polycom

Here are a couple of useful tips for your video-conference…

Preparation. Always give yourself enough time to set up. Tuning in 5 minutes late dabbing your brow will certainly not cover you in glory in the eyes of your colleagues.

Techies. These guys will dig you out of trouble if it arises, so keep them close. If they’re not in the room make sure they’re only a phone call away, they may just save your skin.

Building relationships. Have each participant introduce themselves and briefly explain what their site does or what their role within the company is. It makes the whole experience a lot more engaging for everyone.

Flexible agenda. Having room for new talking points is essential, but also make sure all the key points get a mention.

Mute microphones when someone else is talking. This avoids distracting background noises being broadcast over the connection. It also allows you to mention the other site’s appalling wallpaper without getting into too much trouble.

With all that covered you should be on course for more successful, cheaper conferencing.

Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal reports that 35% of all conferencing is conducted using video, the rest simply with audio. This figure is shifting towards video rapidly year on year. So with hundreds of easy solutions readily available, it really is about time to get on board.

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