Video Conferencing is the new norm – So get used to it
With a third of humanity now in lockdown, video conferencing is fast becoming the normal way to communicate, whether it’s a business meeting, chatting with friends and family, or attending class.
Today my morning started with a board meeting, twelve people at Google Meet, that took 20 minutes simply get them all properly connected. Then a class on Adobe Connect with 35 students halfway around the world.
Add a couple of family chats with Zoom and an event with my publisher, Deusto, on Instagram this afternoon, and my daily life now takes place in front of a screen, with all sorts of issues related to the peculiarities of that communication channel.
How many video conferences do you now find yourself having? As they increase, do you like it, do you find it a reasonable substitute, or have you started to hate it? How many video conferencing tools that you did not know or did not use regularly have you had to install since lockdown was imposed on us?
Now that we’re spending so much time in front of a screen, perhaps we should take advantage to get comfortable with these new tools, and I don’t mean simply “knowing how to use them”, but having reasonably mastered certain routine practices: finding a reasonably lit place; looking at the camera; muting the microphone when not speaking in meetings with several people; sharing the screen when needed; and limiting our use of phatic language — letting our interlocutors know we have heard or understood, and that in video conferences can slow things up.
Simply deciding whether or not to use video can become an issue that, if not properly managed, is likely to generate uncomfortable situations or make us seem rude.
In short, online video generates many situations that, without some practice, can be uncomfortable or disagreeable. The proper management of interruptions or small breaks in communication, for example, is something that can be taught, but is only acquired with practice, as is the choice of tool, who initiates communication, or the use of advanced tools such as background blur in Skype or Teams or virtual backgrounds in Zoom, which can rank from being inconsequential, to solving the problem of where to sit to maintain a video call for those of us short on space.
Deciding when to record a call, when to use attention tracking or how to manage a problem is something that is fundamentally based on experience. If the current times force us to practice these skills, let’s turn that into something positive: in the end, the coronavirus could end up becoming the stimulus that many traditional businesses needed to make the leap into the digital environment.
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