At one time, audio conferencing was one of the most productive technologies in corporate America. With the press of a few buttons, users could converse with team members quickly and easily. Although audio conferencing may have once seemed convenient, there were still a few flaws that had to be tolerated for the sake of getting through meetings. Noise, loss of signal that caused the speaker’s voice to drop out, and the inability to concentrate on the conversation due to lack of visual aids made audio conferencing somewhat inconvenient.
Then came the advent of video-centric conferences. These online meetings not only utilize the audio feature that allows participants to hear themselves and others in separate locations, but they also have video components that allow individuals to engage with each other visually. Benefits of video conferencing over audio conferencing are expansive; some of these are described below:
- Improved communication – Video conferencing restores many visual cues that are necessary in long-distance communication. Non-verbal communication constitutes about two-thirds of communication between people. For instance, eye contact enables us to understand the meaning of a message from a speaker that voice communication alone may not completely convey, thus creating essential social bonds and shared understandings. With audio conferencing, these non-verbal cues do not exist.
- Increased productivity – Most everyone has experienced the neverending “conference call from hell.” Video conferencing basically eliminates those problems, even in large group calls. Important meetings are often shorter and more effective. Video conferencing users report saving a minimum of two hours a week with the technology. The interactivity of group collaboration and document sharing greatly increases productivity.
- Conferencing quality – All of the pros and cons of video conferencing depend on network quality. Early versions of video conferencing had uneven clarity of the audio and video broadcast. Today, these problems still exist for low-end and consumer systems. However, state-of-the-art technology, including WebRTC, now delivers clear, reliable audio and video quality, making this one-time disadvantage rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
- Visual aids – Although audio conferencing can still save people time and prevent the expense of travel, video conferencing provides the benefit of visual aids. These viewable objects make it easier for individuals to stay focused on a meeting’s purpose and overall objective. Slide shows or whiteboards can be used with video conferencing to gain interest. Ineffective audio conference calls can create more meetings due to lack of complete understanding, which reduces productivity and increases frustration. Video-centric communications allow participants to make use of multiple senses, rather than strictly their ability to hear a conversation. This heightens concentration levels and allows participants to absorb more information.
- Clear communication = less errors – Video sessions can also help eliminate the miscommunication that often occurs during the exchange of ideas between team members. Emotionless audio calls leave room for different interpretations of what is being said, and people may misread the purpose of an important point. Video conferencing, however, reduces confusion because people are able to grasp unspoken elements or reiterate facts that may have initially been misunderstood.
Although they are still used and appreciated, audio conference calls are gradually losing ground in the workforce as more people become familiar with video conferencing. VARs that can demonstrate the benefits video conferencing brings will help clients become more profitable and be able to more clearly communicate with employees. This, in turn, provides a stream of ongoing revenue to the reseller, along with opportunities for professional services and maintenance contracts.
Are there other advantages of video conferencing over audio conferencing that should be discussed in this forum? Please comment below.