What is the difference between videoconferencing and an in person meeting?

Timid potential video conferencing users often say, “face to face meetings are much better than video conferencing.”  They don’t realize that a video conference is a “face to face meeting.”  In fact it’s sometimes an “In your face meeting” as large flat panel displays make our faces larger than life and potentially a bit intimidating.  Pressing the flesh and knee cap to knee cap meetings will always be critical.  Videoconferencing only augments what we call “3 dimensional or in person meetings.”

The sales application is a good example.   One study concluded that is takes 7 visits from the salesman before engagement in developing a key account or client.  Imagine if six of these visits were done through video conferencing.  They salesman would have accomplished discovery on the first call and would have seen the facial reactions of the prospect during questions and answers.  The second call would have been further discovery with the prospect’s boss or other interested parties.   The third video meeting is the salesman reviewing the prospect’s issues and concerns.  The fourth video meeting would be a presentation outlining the goals and objectives of the prospect.  The fifth video meeting would be to review an outline for a subsequent proposal.  The sixth video meeting would be a formal presentation of the proposal.  The final and seventh visit; Get on a plane; see the prospect in person to sign the contract.   Look at the time savings and efficiency in developing key accounts.  Imagine how many more key accounts or clients can be developed using videoconferencing as opposed to travel.

Our Attorney clients often teach us the difference between a video conference and an in person meeting. They often mention they prefer the video conference deposition as witnesses often forget they are on camera and say interesting things.  Also, cameras tend to amplify facial expressions enhancing the true feelings of those on the other end.  

In our own experience we use video conferencing so much that we forget that we initially met someone only on a video conference.  When we see a familiar face at a trade show and say hello, if they are much taller or much shorter than we thought, that’s when we realize that we did not initially meet them in person. In time as video conferencing matures we will see no difference between videoconferencing and an in person meeting. In fact we may learn to prefer a video meeting more often than not.

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