The Truth About Video Web Conferencing

by : Steven Gwillim

My first experience with video web conferencing did not leave me with a very good impression. The boss of the shop I was working for was very impressed with the video conference system, in the same way he would have been impressed with any high-tech toy or gadget he had.

Video conferencing allowed us to talk to every shop across the nation, giving us access to thousands of working stiffs just like ourselves learning an abridged version of the heating and cooling trade. The place I was working for was not an honest shop.

Basically, we were given minimal training and sent out into the field to sell people whatever we could. The videoconferencing was just another way that they could try to pressure us into making more sales, something that was hard for us to do with only a vague idea of how the heating business worked. Then, to top it all off, the video conferencing equipment broke at the end of the meeting.

When, years later, one of my business partners suggested using audio video conferencing, I was diplomatic but firm. I had no interest in a video conference.

In my opinion, video teleconferencing is one of the great broken promises of the high-tech age, second only to virtual reality. In theory, it seems like a great idea that will revolutionize business. In practice, however, it is totally unnecessary and a waste of time. There is nothing that you can tell someone over a video conference link that you couldn't send an e-mail about, or so I thought.

Nonetheless, the partner was insistent, and soon we set up a video conferencing meeting room to try the system out. He was generous enough to furnish the system himself so we had nothing lost to the venture. I had expected online teleconferencing to waste exponentially more time than e-mail.

The E-mails people sent were stupid, but contemplating the endless things that they would say in an international meeting involving hundreds of different representatives from six different businesses was nightmarish. I figured that I would never get out of the video conferencing meeting alive.

In fact, it wasn't half as bad as I had thought. It might be that some people are still scared of the technology, but as it was only the key members of each business who had anything to say. Everyone else just sat there quietly and listened, and we got business done pretty fast. Although I wouldn't switch to video conferencing over more traditional means of communication, I am definitely more open to it than I was before.