THE DISADVANTAGES OF VIDEO CONFERENCING
Ways to overcome the disadvantages of video conferencing
As more and more companies go remote first, video conferencing is becoming the norm. Using video to simulate an office makes it easier to engage with your teammates, build trust, and create a sense of camaraderie. While it may come with many perks, there are also some challenges to overcome. Having the right tools and knowledge, however, can make the process more seamless.
Disadvantages of video conferencing
Poor Internet connection
There’s nothing more frustrating than a weak Internet connection, especially in an online meeting. In order to simulate the office, high bandwidth is essential; otherwise, you’ll waste too much time just trying to connect to the call. Many people use Skype or Link, which require a lot of bandwidth. Try platforms that require less, such as:
What’s that behind you? Noises, objects, and poor lighting are distractions in online meetings and can be really frustrating for those on the call with you. Some things to take into account before you go into a meeting:
- Lighting. Science shows that if you’re backlit or in the dark, the level of engagement decreases. If people only see your silhouette, they’re likely to lose interest in what you’re saying. Be sure to pull down blinds if the sun is shining in, don’t have your back to the window, and switch on some soft lights before entering your meeting.
- Background noise. The sound of traffic, people chatting, kids screaming, and dogs barking are all things that can be disruptive and annoying, especially if there’s more than one person on the line with bad background noise. Make sure you are in a quiet space before hopping on the call.
- Distractions. A bed in the background, disarray, and people walking around behind you are all things that can also be off-putting and not very professional is some situations. If your room is your office, get a room divider and make sure you’ve tidied before hopping on that call.
Nothing’s more irritating than someone fumbling around trying to figure things out. Check that the settings on your device are correct and support the following before going into a virtual meeting:
Our life’s view is not of ourselves but of others. In other words, most of our time is spent looking at the faces of other people…unless we’re staring into a mirror. Because of this, the human brain just isn’t programmed to like seeing ourselves on video. While this may be challenging to overcome, it is important that you find ways to make it easier for you. Not engaging in the call might come across as disinterest and people may say you’re not a team player. Before you decide to turn off your camera, try this:
- Change your meeting’s video settings. Most platforms have the options of changing the video settings in your online meeting room to only see your remote colleagues.
- Make your own image small. There is usually an option to make your image small and the speaker’s face large. Doing this will help you focus on what you need to be focusing on — the meeting.
- Look into the camera and let your image blend into the background. This is also better for those you are engaging with, since it simulates eye contact.
Limited amount of people
When we’re video conferencing we can’t look around the room to connect with people the way we can if we’re in a conference room. Because of this, we have to limit the number of people on the call to make it interactive. Things to consider:
- Invite less people. There should be no more that 15 people (preferably less) in order for everyone to engage and have the opportunity to participate.
- Have two or more meetings. If you work in a large organisation, split the meetings up into two or more groups. To avoid information gaps, make sure to appoint a chairman in each meeting to be in charge of the meeting agenda.
- Record meetings. It may not be necessary for everyone to join, but you should always keep employees in the loop. Record meetings and make them accessible to everyone.
No etiquette on how to behave
From eating to moving around, what’s acceptable to one might be offensive to another. There’s also the problem of people not knowing how to interject, which could cause interruptions. Before your team start meeting online, try the following:
- Define expectations. Be clear about what you expect from your colleagues in an online meeting.
- Create a company meeting etiquette document. This should be visible to the whole team and reviewed during a team retrospective.
In light of the global pandemic, many of us have now experienced “Zoom fatigue“. Research shows that having too many virtual meetings and sitting in one place for too long can be exhausting. Unlike being in an in-person meeting, being online doesn’t allow you to look around and see different perspectives; you only have the view in front of you. It’s important to:
- Take breaks to stretch and let your eyes rest from the screen lighting.
- Go out for some fresh air in between meetings.
- Have shorter meetings.
- Decide if the meeting is really necessary or if what you need to say can be done asynchronously.
If you’re in an organisation and you need to have everyone on a video conferencing system plus conferencing rooms equipped with these systems, the cost can start to creep up. This needs to be taken into consideration when you’re thinking about switching to online meetings. Before investing in expensive equipment:
- Be experimental. You don’t know what you don’t know. The best way to figure out what works for your team is by trying new things. There are lots of free and inexpensive meeting apps you can use in your company’s initial stages.
- Start small. You don’t want to invest in fancy equipment that you don’t need or that you can’t afford. Start with the basics and as your business builds so too will your structures.
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I’d like to add another challenge to your list of videoconference downsides I came across quite often:
Mixed meetings with partly local and partly remote participants can be very unsatisfying.
Well known is the problem that remote attendees can easily get out of the conversation, either because they are not heared or they cannot follow local chats.
Less often discussed is this problem: Many local participants stare at the monitor with the remote participants and focus on them, while ignoring local colleagues.
“A running TV catches always the attention.”
Afterward many complain, that the focus of the meeting layed mainly on the remote attendees. Though they were the ones ignoring everything that happened local.
A solution to this might be: If at least one person is on video call, EVERYONE sould be on video call.
(see Trello’s tip #3 https://blog.trello.com/6-mistakes-when-you-work-in-office-but-have-remote-team-members).
– Steffen, @stclj
What you describe is lack of skills in setting-up and facilitating blended meetins, not something set in stone 🙂 Some of my teams have ONLY blended meetings and both people in the room and people on screen regularly share positive feedback. Sometimes – because it’s thier turn – people on screen even facilitate that kind of blended meeting. It can work, but team and facilitators need to learn how to do it in a way that’s comfortable for all involved.
Good tips Lissete 🙂
Another tip: mix staring into screen with staring straight into webcam 🙂 That simulates eye to eye contact and improves human connection between people having on screen conversation.
Thank you! Great tip.
Hybrid meetings are tough! I agree that having everyone be on a video call is a good solution. If it’s only 1 or 2 remote participants, I would buy Kubi’s for them and have them attend via telepresence – https://www.revolverobotics.com/
I did a podcast about hybrid teams a while back. It doesn’t specifically address hybrid meetings, but it still might have some good tips: https://www.collaborationsuperpowers.com/69-when-one-person-is-remote-the-whole-team-is-remote/
Which gets me thinking… hybrid meeting tips would be a great podcast episode!! Thanks for the idea – I will credit it you when it comes out. 🙂
using a Kubi for remote participants seems a reasonable idea. This way they won’t enthrone on a big screen high above the others.
I guess in larger group the “Kubi Enhanced Audio Kit” might be necessary.
Does anybody know, what happens to Revolve Robotics? Since May Kubi is sold by Xandex.
Is Kubi still a product with a future?
– Steffen, @stclj
The company (Revolve Robotics) has wound down, but the manufacturer continues to produce and sell the Kubi. So the Kubi lives on!