This article gives interesting inputs about how you could use Video Conferences to make your USA business more successful. Due to the geographical dimensions within the United States, Video Conferencing has often a high relevance for day-to-day business practice.
The role of Video Conferencing in the USA Business World
Video Conferences made their debut in USA businesses in the 1980s. As many other technologies, Video Conferencing in the USA in the early days was characterized mainly by technical problems, a rather low quality and exorbitant cost for the equipment. Still, as technology continued to improve, more and more businesses made Video Conferences an important part of their business communication. Even today, Video Conferences in USA businesses still did not overtake the much more popular Telephone Conferences. However, with the rising number of Internet Telephony utilizing Voice over IP systems, or thousands of virtual Seminars which are being held every day on the Internet and fairly good technology available, Video Conferences are back on the rise.
One aspect of the popularity of USA Video Conferencing is the large geographic dimensions within the USA. Traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast is typically a 4.5 hour flight. A total of three hours time difference within the mainland United States is another sign of some rather large distances between people who want to do businesses with each other. This is the main point why technology – such as Video Conferences – is often used, to overcome distances.
When to go with Video Conferences for USA Business Communication
In general, there are a few basic ways you could communicate with your future USA Business Partners and/or USA customers. If resources such as time and money would be unlimited for you and your dialog partner, most would probably rather prefer the personal face-to-face communication. Communication can’t be any easer than from one human directly to another human, eye to eye.
However, time and money is strictly limited. Especially in the USA. Even when you are located in New York and plan a meeting with a potential client in Detroit (flight time here would be only 1.5 hours), you are spending a whole day traveling to and from both airports just to make it to one meeting. Unless it is really worth spending your time, you may want to consider the alternative of phone and/or video conferencing.
Meeting someone in person or doing a Video Conference instead, is simply a question of the expected Return on your Investment. The more you expect from a meeting and the higher the value for your business is, the more you probably want to see your future client in person.
Preparing your USA Video Conference
If you (or your business partner) decide to conduct a meeting using Video Conference, you need to go into some more detailed planning. While there are no travel arrangements to be made, a lot of other things should be in place in order to make a Video Conference succesful.
You and your dialog partner need to figure out, if you are on the same page in regards to technical equipment and interoperability of the Video Conference System Equipments you plan to use. Most high-end systems support several standards. Another option in regards to interoperability would be to use your regular Webcam and utilize web-based platforms such as for example the very popular WebEx system.
Next, you need to set aside specific time for the conference. Ideally, details are exchanged via E-mail, so that there is no misunderstanding about the exact date and time for the conference.
Finally - Doing well with considering a few basics
Just as any regular business meeting in the USA can range anywhere between a huge success where all attendees are going out of the meeting with excitement and good spirit or a waste of time where the attendees wished they would have done something more meaningful with their time. However, some special circumstances apply for a Video Conference.
§ Avoid Technical Glitches: It is essential that you make sure that technical glitches are avoided. Testing the equipment for various scenarios is an absolute must. Having a technical guy available if something goes wrong is helpful, too. Audio is an important part of the conversation, so you should pay a special focus on the right audio adjustments (microphone and speakers).
§ Agree on and publish an Agenda: Communication via Video Conferences is far away for being as smooth as a live conversation between humans. Therefore, it is even more important to agree on, prepare and publish an agenda. This brings everyone on the same page and keeps them focused on the business issues and not the imperfections in the communication.
§ Preparing the Room Layout: All chairs should face in one direction: towards the camera. It feels disrespectful, when the first thing you see on the the other side is the back of a chair.
§ Looking in the Camera when speaking: We naturally turn to the person we are addressing when we talk. This does not work in videoconferences when the camera is in one corner of the room and the video display on the other. Imagine how irritating it may look when every time someone on the other end looks away from you when he starts to talk. Putting the camera right next to, or ideally on top of the screen (if it is for example a TV-size display) is the way to go. You automatically look into the camera and don’t need to think about it.
§ Consider having Name Plates: This is maybe a question of personal preference. Nameplates a probably not necessary for two-person video conference. However, if there are a couple of people on each side, it may helps.
§ Dress Appropriate: A meeting is a meeting. Even if your office dress code is a little more unconventional, you should toll your dialog partner respect and follow the appropriate dress code. You may want to avoid shrill colors since they appear irritating when transmitted with the Video Signal.
And finally – Business people in the USA are in meetings a lot. Some of those meetings are potentially interesting. However, many others are more boring than anyone could imagine. Therefore you do everyone – but especially your business and the message you want to get out – a huge favor by keeping the Video Conference meeting short, interesting and focused.
To be continued