The psychology of video conferencing
In December of 2019, Zoom had 10 million customers. By the third week in April of 2020, the company had surpassed 300 million users. And it is reasonable to conclude that other videoconferencing platforms have also experienced significant growth – for rather obvious reasons. Video conferencing (VCing) does bring some challenges. Studies show that 75% of people prefer a telephone to video. One reason is that people find video wears them out. 85% of communication is non-verbal and understanding those cues on camera is much more difficult – and tiring. Of course, it does not help that we often have other “threads” going on at the same time we are on a video call – ie. cell phone, emails, texts, etc. Another big issue with video is distraction. Common distractions include: getting caught up looking at backgrounds on the video; being overly concerned with one’s own appearance; people concluding that VCing is actually all about public speaking; and the dissonance created between our minds registering a certain form of togetherness while on video and our bodies registering the actual distance between participants. Further, video feed delays of as little as 1.2 seconds can have people perceiving the responder as less friendly and not listening.
Interestingly, research shows people are typically more prepared than normal for video calls. Of course, capable people will perform in a video environment as well as they do anywhere else in your business. Those who sometimes struggle in other settings can also have trouble dealing with VCing. For those that need some extra help, here are some solutions to improving video performance; make turning on the camera optional; get people to take notes – it minimizes distractions; and whenever possible, ensure people have blank back drops.
In the end, the benefits of video conferencing outweigh the detractions. So it is definitely here to stay. If you are reading this, it is very unlikely you have difficulty with this method of communicating. However, as indicated, some folks do – and the suggestions mentioned above just might help. Until next time, be safe.