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What Is Video Conferencing, and How Does It Work?
Updated · Sep 13, 2023
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Video conferencing lets you connect with friends, family, and work colleagues from anywhere in the world. It has become commonplace among businesses, educators, and government agencies, with a market penetration of roughly 65%.
Using your preferred platform and stable internet, you can utilize video conferencing for different activities, such as:
- Job Interviews
- One-on-one training
- Product demos
- Team meetings
The benefits of video conferencing are also abundant. However, like many other things, it comes with drawbacks, which this article will explain later.
Read on to better understand what video conferencing is and how it works.
🔑 Key Takeaways:
Understanding Video Conferencing
Video conferencing is a visual simulation of face-to-face meetings, which is beneficial when there are limitations in meeting people physically. It also uses the Internet to conduct live interactions and collaborations through:
- Screen sharing
Anyone can host a meeting with multiple participants to present content or conduct training using their preferred device and video conferencing software.
From managing remote teams to meeting business partners overseas, check these other common events people use video conferencing for:
1. Sales Calls
Distance shouldn't complicate closing sales as today's clients prefer to buy remotely. Now that physical proximity is optional to sell products, a salesperson only needs to establish a great relationship with the buyer on the other end without in-person visits.
Relationships matter in sales. When sales calls are done via video conferencing, customers can see a person, hear their voice, and experience their presence, which, overall, helps build trust.
2. Product Demos
Video conferencing is the closest you can get to a physical product demo. You can showcase your product’s benefits, justify pricing, work with objections, negotiate, and even pursue your clients to buy from you on the spot.
3. Job Interviews
Video conferencing enables businesses to hire skilled employees worldwide. Its time, cost, and resource efficiency make it an attractive option for employers.
According to a Gartner poll of 334 human resource leaders, 86% of organizations use virtual technology to interview candidates. Here are some major reasons why organizations prefer virtual interviews:
- Saves on costs
- Allows for a bigger pool of candidates
- Better scheduling flexibility
- Reduces time-to-hire
✅ Pro Tip:
Setting up separate meeting rooms for each candidate is crucial for conducting back-to-back interviews. You don’t want your applicant to join the meeting 10 minutes early only to find out you’re still interviewing another candidate.
4. Team Meetings
Video conferencing is a cornerstone of today’s workforce, especially in hybrid setups. Most meetings can be done virtually, including the following:
- daily stand-ups
- status updates
- team buildings
Many organizations use virtual meetings to bring the most important people into the meeting, wherever they’re based. These meetings can also help maintain work relationships and productive collaborations when appropriately planned.
✅ Pro Tip:
To conduct virtual meetings like a pro, follow up and maintain communication with your clients or employees. You can email a summary of the meeting, the action steps, and the deadlines.
Keep them updated and check in regularly to see if they need support.
5. Webinar and Training
Online training programs using video conferencing effectively unite your remote employees or students. With video conferencing, leaders and teachers can ensure all members are given similar instructions.
The team can also meet using the same tool to participate in discussions about everything they have learned and provide each other feedback on how to work on certain projects.
Using virtual platforms as a medium to train and teach can help the company or the school save money. It eliminates the need to spend on travel and lodging expenses, allowing the team to benefit from the best leaders regardless of location.
As hybrid work continues to gain traction, it’s no surprise that video conferencing is now a standard part of some people’s daily lives. However, selecting a video conferencing type that suits your needs is not as easy as it sounds.
In the next section, you’ll learn more about the general features and types of video conferencing.
General Features of Video Conferencing Software
A feature-rich video conferencing software can empower your people to be productive wherever they are. Besides helping your company connect with clients effectively, it makes collaborating and holding real-time meetings easier.
Here’s an overview of the key features of video conferencing that provide the best experience possible:
- Chat features. You can communicate through writing to share information, links, resources, and more with chat features. Live chat allows for message exchange without interrupting a meeting.
- Presentation. You can flash PDFs, MP4 videos, and PowerPoint presentations as well.
- Share screen. Screen sharing allows a participant to share their screen so others see their activity in real-time. It is ideal for demonstrating what you're discussing, as everyone in the meeting is on the same page.
- Breakout rooms. These rooms allow you to split your meeting into separate sessions from the main meeting. It is useful for close collaboration or small-group discussions with a few selected participants.
- Recording. You should be able to record a meeting since not everyone will be available for every session. Recordings are also handy for future meetings, documentation purposes, verification of decisions, and the like. Some offer unlimited storage in the cloud.
- User management. This feature allows you to create and manage user accounts, groups, and permissions for security compliance and access control so only authorized users can get in.
- Mobile support and resources. Apps provide support via phone, email, or live chat. Online training resources like tutorials and video demos also teach you to troubleshoot issues independently.
Types of Video Conferencing
You can choose from the following types of video conferencing systems depending on your needs:
Telepresence Video Conferencing System
Telepresence is an advanced technology with the virtual presence of a human being at a wider distance. It boasts HD video, clear audio, and a more true-to-life user experience.
Unlike video conferencing, telepresence needs codec, multiple monitors, and an advanced sound system. It’s also typically deployed in a physical room in an office.
In other words, telepresence is like your average virtual meeting but with more expensive equipment and enhanced audio and video quality.
Room-Based Video Conferencing System
In-room video conferencing system is another type of system where hardware solutions are installed, fixed, and configured in a room. It typically requires an endpoint unit, which communicates the standard-based protocol across IP networks.
Compared to telepresence, this system doesn’t need additional software since the codec already acts as hardware that transmits video data and signals.
Desktop Video Conferencing System
Instead of meeting in a room, the participants virtually join the video conference using a personal computer. This is what makes desktop video conferencing a cost-effective and flexible video conferencing solution.
This system is typically used in government departments, businesses, and schools, making it easier to schedule meetings with people who can’t physically attend.
The software and hardware a user needs to start desktop conferencing is simple. It only needs a webcam, a microphone, and a cheap video conferencing program.
Service-Based Video Conferencing System
The provider holds most of the control for the service-based video conferencing system. Telecommunication carriers plan and support the network and configurations, saving organizations time and bandwidth of resources.
This is beneficial if you don’t want to deal with the complexities, as the carrier will manage it for you. It means there will not be technical distractions that you need to attend to while you’re in a meeting.
Benefits of Video Conferencing
If you have multiple employees you must communicate with daily, video conferencing is your best friend, especially when in-person meetings are not feasible. Zoom’s 300 million daily participants can attest to that.
Delve into the benefits of video conferencing to see how it can help your people collaborate across departments and locations:
- Easy to use. Most video conferencing apps are intuitive to use. This factor benefits non-techy people and businesses transitioning from face-to-face meetings to online video conferencing.
- Saves time and money. While some video conferencing software and equipment aren't free, you're spared from airfare and travel costs. You can focus your precious resources elsewhere instead.
- Efficiency. Achieve maximum productivity with the power of screen sharing, multidirectional collaboration, and the ability to join remotely. Video conferencing makes it easy to quickly jump into a brainstorm, address a concern, or start a regular meeting.
- Organization and scheduling. Scheduling tools help you keep track of your video conference plans. You don't have to interact with people and regularly remind everyone about a meeting.
- Streaming abilities. Video conferences can be shared and distributed via social media platforms to reach thousands of participants (e.g., Webex meetings allow you to live stream to Youtube, Twitter with Periscope, Facebook Live, and any streaming platform).
- Scalability. Video conferencing apps can accommodate small, medium, and large participants. They have the scalability to grow with you.
Disadvantages of Video Conferencing
While video conferencing is used widely, it is no secret that there are disadvantages tied to the technology. In fact, research from Ovum states that 95% of virtual meetings start late.
The same research shows that meetings fail to deliver value because of late start times. It costs executives 3 hours a week in lost time and productivity.
Here are the most common video conferencing issues companies struggle with:
- Technical issues. Video conferencing apps have varying internet connection speeds and bandwidth requirements (e.g., Google Meet requires an internet bandwidth of 3.2 Mbps for an HD video quality bandwidth). Technical issues happen when you don't meet those requirements.
- Less fluid conversations. Teams can brainstorm more easily in person rather than in video conferences. You can't pick up on verbal and nonverbal cues with a video conference.
- Distraction. A survey from Showpad found that 76% of employees say they get more distracted when on video calls vs. in-person meetings. Employees keep their cameras off to hide something they are doing, like looking at their phones.
- Security risks. Video conferencing apps with poor security credentials risk the security of users. Those with highly sensitive operations may hesitate to use this communication form.
✅ Pro Tip:
Get a video conferencing app with transparent security protocols like BlueJeans. It’s better if it offers regular security updates or supports the latest encryption technology to scramble your data so anyone unauthorized cannot read it.
While some disadvantages above are due to human error, they cannot be untied to video conferencing. If there’s an issue, it’s advantageous if a user knows how to solve it independently.
Technology has changed the way people and businesses communicate. With the ever-increasing number of tech devices and applications available, it's now possible for people to stay connected through their computer or mobile phone no matter where they are.
Video conferencing removes all geographical barriers, saves time and resources, and makes lives more manageable. There's very little reason not to leverage video conference apps today.
Once you get comfortable with the technology, and when done smoothly, video conferences are a great way to connect with anyone on the globe.
What is the difference between video calling and video conferencing?
A conference refers to a formal meeting for discussion, and a video call involves at least two callers talking and seeing each other on a device.
Is Zoom better than Teams for video conferencing?
Zoom is your best bet if you have people outside your organization joining. Microsoft Teams is better for internal meetings as it lacks chat features for people outside your organization.
Is Zoom a video conferencing system?
No, Zoom is a conferencing platform. Video conferencing systems are devices such as a camera, speaker, microphone, and devices that go with conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
How do you use video conferencing effectively?
An effective video conference needs a reliable internet connection, a robust video conferencing app, complete equipment such as a camera and speaker, and the practice of proper video conferencing etiquette.
What are the problems that may occur during video conferencing?
Problems include broken audio and video, unstable internet connection, delays from the inability to share screens, and other non-technical issues like nonverbal cues, cultural barriers, etc.
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