Video conferencing has truly changed the way that people communicate throughout their business and the world. The technology brings people together while providing significant cost savings and productivity gains. But, like any other technology there are always some things to watch out for and some common mistakes or “blunders” that can be made that make you look, well, terrible.

Recently I was presenting to our sales team and quickly came face to face with some of the blunders I’ve experience in the past. While I am proud to say that I did not experience all of these in this single meeting, I came close!

Here they are, in no particular order:

1) The Powerful Forehead: Video conferencing is all about seeing the other participants. When you setup for a call, make sure you have your camera positioned well.  As lovely as it is, the other side is not particularly interested in your forehead. Focus on positioning the camera as if you were a newscaster.  Get your face in the middle of the frame; keep the upper part of your shoulders visible and make sure you don’t put too much space above your head.  You don’t want to cut off your hair, but you also do not want participants to be able to see the taxidermy moose you have hanging behind you.

2) The Background Joke: What’s going on behind you in a video conference can be just as important as your personal appearance. Make sure your background is as minimal as possible. A solid color wall or sheet is a great way to avoid an unsightly distraction. If you can’t have a totally clear background, make sure you do your best to keep background items to a minimal. If you have book shelves behind you, make sure your HD camera is not picking up book titles you wouldn’t want people to see!

3) Can You Hear Me Now?: Sometimes when you’re on the phone you need to mute to avoid others hearing background noise or other side conversations. Video is the same. But what is important to remember is that while you may mute audio, people can still see you. If you are muted, make sure you unmute before proceeding. Nothing is worse than waxing prophetic about the latest company initiative or introducing a great idea, only to have your colleagues see your mouth moving and nothing coming out!

4) Johnny Come Lately: With a video conference, you might be connecting from your house, your office, or other remote location. Make sure you are on time! In fact, get yourself setup in your meeting environment a few minutes before the beginning of the call. This will allow you enough time to make sure your camera is positioned, your background is clear, and you have all notes/materials you need to work through the meeting.

5) Keep Your Eyes On The Prize!: As we’ve mentioned in other articles, it is important to remember that a video call requires you to be fully engaged and ready to speak/participate. Don’t let yourself be distracted (like my 3 month old who is so fascinated with our ceiling fan that he stares at it and forgets he’s hungry) and make sure that you do not let yourself wander off into other activities such as checking your email on your phone or worse, grooming!

These blunders can not only contribute to an unsuccessful call but can also negatively hurt your image with your colleagues. Don’t do that!

“From Telemedicine to applications in government, entertainment, science and education, Polycom is fueling collaboration, knowledge and understanding around the world.”

We are very excited to hear that Polycom, a leader the visual collaboration space, launched its new brand!   Their history in developing innovative video collaboration products is impressive and an increased focus on UC and mobile technologies will continue to change the way people collaboration. 

In a mission to unite devises, operating systems and service provides; Polycom will make video ubiquitous through secure and easy to use technology that delivers a high quality experience to everyone, everywhere.  Watch their video below.

These are exciting times in the visual collaboration space and we cannot wait to see what Polycom comes up with next!

It’s no secret that body language provides visual clues to the people you are speaking to; both positive and negatives signs of approval, engagement, confidence and more. Lately, the importance of body language during a video call has been lost in a sea of texts, emails and phone calls. 

It is extremely important to be cognizant of body language during a video call to avoid giving the wrong impression. Body language is a major sign of whether a person is actively engaged in a conversation or words are simply going in one ear and out the other. 

Everyone has shouted you’re not listening to me only to have the other party repeat verbatim what they just said. This is because there a difference between hearing what someone is saying and actually listening to what someone is saying.   

Show others you are actively engaged and listening by not fidgeting; this includes twirling a pen or your hair, rubbing your hands together incessantly, or picking at your nails.   Also make sure to avoid the following:   

  • Propping your head up with your hands as this just screams boredom
  • Checking your phone which conveys it is more important than the person speaking
  • Tapping your fingers repeatedly as it suggests you are in a rush to move on

Additionally, in business it is important to convey both confidence in yourself and your ideas, as well as, openness to others and their ideas.  This should be expressed by maintaining good posture; sitting up straight with your shoulders back and head up.  A closed body or defensive position can lead others to discount your idea or keep them from revealing their real opinions.   A few things to avoid are:

  • Narrowing your eyes as it gives the impression you do not like a person or an idea
  • Crossing your arms as it is a sign of resistance but can also be interpreted as egotism  
  • Holding a coffee mug or notebook in front of you, indicating shyness
  • Playing with your collar or necklace, showing doubt or uncertainty 

The bottom line is, pay attention to what your body is saying about you.  Showing confidence and openness can help your career as much as boredom and uncertainty can hinder it.

There has been significant buzz around a recent Forbes article about the death of telepresence and Cisco’s  response. One side claims that telepresence is a dying breed while the other claims it is alive and well. So who is right?

Both of them.

Yes, there are many new entrants that are disrupting the visual communications space. These companies are making video more accessible by allowing organizations who previously couldn’t afford the technology the opportunity to video conference.  Furthermore, the explosion of cloud services and mobile video is extending the reach of visual collaboration while overcoming interoperability barriers.  The market is ever growing and organizations will continue to invest in these technologies at a rapid rate.

These solutions will not replace the need for Telepresence though.

While the quality of desktop, mobile and cloud solutions are improving; they pale in comparison to a truly immersive experience.  C-Level strategy meetings are far more likely to demand the quality and lifelike experience immersive systems offer.  In fact, saying that the executives of a multi-billion dollar corporation will opt for a lower quality but cost effective video solution is like saying they will choose to drive a Pinto because it’s more cost effective than a Mercedes-Benz.  Unfortunately, the current price tag for immersive solutions is typically only justified for executives; plus, there are only so many rooms a company can dedicate to telepresence.  This creates a significantly limited market and contributes to the declining sales of telepresence systems.

Experienced audio visual integrators; however, can overcome these limitations and expand the market for telepresence.  Advanced integrators can customize solutions to create an immersive feeling using standard HD video systems for a fraction of the cost.  Additionally, elite AV integrators can modify immersive and standard systems to expand both the range of rooms and applications telepresence can work in; allowing companies to design a solution that best fits their needs.

What does the future look like then?

While there will still be a place for telepresence; the shift towards software based systems will continue at an accelerated pace.  Many organizations will begin adopting UC and cloud platforms over standards-based enterprise systems due to their user friendly, cost effective and scalable collaboration capabilities. Polycom and Cisco will need to continue to drive innovation around UC solutions to remain competitive in this space. Integrated UC solutions, with interactive document sharing, will offer far more value to organizations than stand-alone desktop video solutions.

The bottom line is this:

Telepresence systems will continue to have their place in the C-suite and for meetings where the highest audio visual quality and seamless collaboration are mission critical.  However, UC and mobile video solutions will put the future of business collaboration into the hands of every user organization-wide ushering in a new era of connected workforce.

Using Video to Improve Work/Life Balance on the Road

You’re sitting in your hotel room and sigh: another missed baseball game. You start thinking of all the defining moments you’ve missed in your child’s life.  From the first words, to the first day of school, to a straight A’s report card; you can’t help but feel you’re missing out. 

Even though travel has been reduced through visual collaboration solutions at work; you still travel frequently because, let’s face it, you can’t do everything over video. Sometimes a firm handshake is necessary to close a deal or unique technical expertise requires your presence.  How can you stay involved in your personal life without sacrificing your job? 

Video Conferencing. 

You use it frequently to conduct business with colleagues, clients and partners so why not use it to stay involved in your children’s lives? Instead of calling home every night, video home.  Read a bed time story, watch the baseball game in real time, or even express your disappointment on a bad choice, the possibilities are endless! With video, you no longer have to forfeit your personal life in the name of business or see the disappointed looks when you leave for yet another business trip. 

Face time is just as important in strengthening personal relationships as it is in developing business relationships. As the saying goes, eyes are the gateway to the soul.  It’s nearly impossible to establish an emotional connection or tell what someone is thinking without looking someone in the eyes. Phone calls and text messages while traveling just don’t cut it anymore; buy a webcam or an iPad and check in with family while on the road. 

Then, the next time you are traveling, you can sit around the dinner table, hear about your spouse’s day and even kiss your children goodnight…virtually.