Video killed the telephone call

Video killed the telephone call

If you ever work remotely, you may know this pain well. I speak of the dreaded meeting of all meetings. That tete-a-tete you avoid more than any other. The videoconference call.

Who, in their right mind, requests a video call for a business or team meeting? You know who…it’s that perky new co-worker who joins the call via video, even when they don’t have to. Their visage, even at 8 a.m., is fresh as the morning dew, having completed their 5 a.m. CrossFit workout. They are staring at you now, wide-eyed with their Starbucks green juice in hand. Meanwhile, you just woke up for this call. Coffee dribbles down your wrinkled nightshirt, and your office still has last night’s ice cream bowl sitting atop piled receipts and half-completed projects. Yes, you chose to work from home to spare others your hygienic eccentricities.

For the love of all things right in the world, why would ever want to do a video chat?

A famous study conducted by famed UCLA researcher Dr. Albert Mehrabian reports that 93% of communication is nonverbal in nature, meaning visual clues and tone of voice convey intent more effectively than words. Probably not a big surprise to most of us in the communications field. But what impact do these findings have in the remote worker’s world?

Being able to see one another via video chat allows us to read non-verbal cues and creates a more relational, effective and fun setting, especially compared to a phone call. When we’re talking with a new client, video chat removes the awkward silences and effort required to pick up nuances in speech that hint at what a person is actually thinking. MIT neuroscientists found that the human brain can process an entire image that the eye only sees for 13 milliseconds. With this supercomputing ability, our ability to grasp facial queues and subtle gestures is expedited, which means we cut out a lot of guesswork and imagination inherent with traditional phone calls.

Also, video chats keep everyone on task. When we’re video-chatting, we can’t scroll through the latest Reddit posts or respond to the 10 emails that come up during the conversation. We have to focus on the call and callers – we have to engage more fully. While some of us may think single-tasking is a bygone era of incompetence and inefficiency, video chats do have clear benefits for everyone on the call.

Finally, let’s look at today’s work force. Millennials are emerging as the dominant demographic in the business world. They love their technology and personal devices. In-person meetings and phone calls are foreign concepts to theses digitally savvy wage-earners. According to a survey conducted by Wainhouse Research, 55 percent of conferencing managers are seeing an increasing demand for video chats from younger employees. Another survey conducted in the U.K. found that 71 percent of employees’ favor video over audio conferencing, with the majority being next-generation team members.

So, maybe the kids are on to something. Maybe those of us who prefer the anonymity of the phone and the comfort of sweat pants, need to rethink how effective we really are during meetings. Perhaps it’s time to upgrade the tattered AC/DC shirt to Fetty Wap, download the video chat app, and get camera-ready for the next wave in business communications.

Skype for Business is a great place to start. I use it (when I have to)!



Pew Research Center’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data

Wainhouse Research Study

RingCentral UK Survey

Tiffanny Brooks

Senior Director //