Back To The Future With Face-To-Face Technology
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has played a key role in the evolution of business communication. In
the past, corporate communication was a one-way street, with executives
pushing information down to employees through impersonal, formal
messages. This type of communication was supported by technologies such
as video, DVD and closed circuit television. Today, management is in a
constant loop of collaboration and feedback with employees and clients.
With the rise of new technologies – internet, email – there is a
growing expectation that information should be conveyed globally as
soon as it is known, and that employees should be in touch 24/7. But
email has become so ubiquitous that it’s difficult to get anyone’s
attention through that medium.
welcome to the visual technology revolution -- and a “return” to the
power of face-to-face.
all for it.
face-to-face meetings, our brains process the continual cascade of
nonverbal cues that we use as the basis for building trust and
professional intimacy. Face-to-face interaction is information-rich. We
interpret what people say to us only partially from the words they use.
We get most of the message (and all of the
emotional nuance behind the words) from vocal tone, pacing, facial
expressions and body language. And we rely on immediate feedback – the
instantaneous responses of others – to help us gauge how well our ideas
are being accepted.
in face-to-face exchanges watch each other’s expressions to monitor
reactions to what’s being said and heard. Even when some words are
missed, observing the expression on a speaker’s face can help the
listener follow a conversation.
were born with this innate capability. We may have spent years learning
to read and write with various levels of mastery, but no one had to
teach us to send and respond to nonverbal signals. In fact our brains
need and expect these more primitive and significant channels of
information. When we are denied these interpersonal cues, the brain
struggles and communication suffers.
potent is this nonverbal link between individuals that, when we are in
genuine rapport with someone, we subconsciously match our body
positions, movements, and even our breathing rhythms with theirs. Most
interesting, in face-to-face encounters the brain's ”mirror neurons”
(the neural mechanism that fires when we perform an act or see another
perform that same action) mimic not just behaviors, but sensations and
feelings as well.
are many players in the visual technology field. Zoom is one -- an HD
video conferencing service that also allows business people to connect
via desktop or mobile device. When I asked Zoom’s CEO, Eric
Yuan, about the use of visual communication in business, he shared the
Aren’t video meetings just a throw-back to traditional face-to-face?
Face-to-face contact is synergistic, pleasurable and efficient. A
five-minute video meeting can accomplish more than 20 emails. While
it’s a throwback, it’s also a jump forward as advanced technology, such
as HD video, connectivity via mobile devices and the ability to screen
share, is making this easily possible on a global scale.
Why is visual communication so important to business?
There is extensive research on this subject. We know that non-verbal
communication – our visual signals – can account for a large portion of
what we communicate, even more so than what we’re actually saying. Not
only that, people remember much more of what they see than what they
hear and people tend to be more persuasive when they are seen and heard
as opposed to just heard. This is all very important in business. If
you want to be persuasive, effective and memorable, you must be seen.
Additionally, effective collaboration in business is largely about
relationships. As online social networking is becoming a greater part
of our personal and work lives, we can more easily reach out to
friends, colleagues, customers and partners. But while you can count on
social networking tools, such as posts and tweets, to start
relationships, you can’t solely count on them to build and maintain
relationships. Direct, visual contact is a remedy. Video
conversations help you get
to know someone, much more so than phone, tweets or newsfeed
conversations and to be able to serve their needs in a much faster,
What are a few tips on the effective use of visual communication tools?
First of all, approach your video meeting as you would an in-person
meeting. Don’t ever forget that people can see you even if you can’t
see them. Also, invest in high quality equipment. Zoom will work on
even the lowest bandwidth and most affordable A/V system, but the best
experience and the most professional presentation come from high
bandwidth and high quality webcams, speakers and microphones. Also, if
you’re unfamiliar with visual communication tools, practice having a
meeting and using the features. Even on a very straightforward system,
it is best to run through the features on your own instead of learning
how to use them during an important meeting. Finally, don’t treat your
video meeting as one-sided. Even if you’re making a presentation,
engage with the remote participants, ask them questions and elicit
it’s “back to the future” for face-to-face technology – just be sure
you know how to optimize it!
About the Author
Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.is an international
Keynote speaker on collaborative leadership and the impact of
language in the workplace.
coach to executives to improve their leadership presence and
Leadership blogger for Forbes and author of "The Silent Language of
Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or Hurt - How You Lead.”
Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com Authors Google+
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