What is the difference between an audio conference and a video conference?

Here is   good way to look at the fundamental difference between an audio conference and a video conference.  An audio conference is a phone call made even more confusing when you have multiple participants.  A video conference is a face to face meeting that is potentially even more engaging than a “knee cap to knee cap” or physical meeting.   You may ask — How a video conference can be more engaging than a physical meeting.

Basically there are four ways to video conference through the ITU, (International Telecommunications Union), standards:  1) Conference Room system w/pan tilt zoom camera;  2) Executive endpoint or small system w/built-in-screen;  3) Desktop / MAC and Notebook Access;  and 4) Mobile App for iPods, iPhones and Droids.  If you are entering a video conference via the first three options you can present material from your computer in real time to all the other participants.   One of the ITU standards is H.239 or duo video, which allows two video streams to be sent simultaneously to the meeting.  This means all participants are seeing you and your secondary input, which can be a computer, document camera or DVD.  This is extremely powerful as you are in a face to face video meeting with multiple participants who are seeing you and your secondary input less than 24” from their faces if they are on a computer or mobile device.  This is indeed more engaging than a physical meeting and far more reaching when you consider the participants can be spread worldwide.

Raindance Communication, Inc. completed a survey on audio conferencing and here is what they found. 70% of the participants are doing unrelated work; 69% are looking for the materials discussed in the conference; 50% are reading and/or sending email or instant messages; 37% are eating;  35% are muting the call and talking to someone else and 27% are surfing the Internet.  Think about how many times you asked a participant in an audio conference a question and did not get a response. Chances are they tuned out and fell into one of the above distractions.

Going from an audio conference to a video conference is like going to one meeting with your eyes closed and another with your eyes open.  Imagine going to a regular “knee cap to knee cap” physical meeting in your in your conference room and everybody has their eyes closed.  How would this effect the overall communication in that meeting?  For a humorous view of an audio conference to the following You Tube link.

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