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Disadvantages of Video Conferencing

written by: Michael Guerrero•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 10/31/2010

Video conferencing has revolutionized how businesses interact with each other in a lot of ways. Before you would have to travel to meet with people and have a face-to-face conversation. There are some downsides, however, which are explained in this article.

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    Video Conferencing Basics

    A modern two screen video-conferencing setup. Video conferencing is a relatively new technology that has become widely available on today's market. Video conferencing allows us to connect with people who are much further away in a way that is much more personal than sending an e-mail, fax, or conferencing over the telephone. In many ways, this technology is really great because it allows us to interact with each other in a more human and social manner. It is in this way that we are better able to establish a greater sense of trust and friendship with each other over important things such as business or relationships.

    But, there are some downsides to video conferencing that everyone should be aware of before they decide to replace their networking systems, and I have complied a brief list of some ways that video conferencing is not as great as the messaging systems we already have in place.

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    Technical Issues

    Video conferencing requires an Internet connection and therefore suffers from intermittent problems such as lag if the bandwidth usage is too high or if the there is something wrong with the connection. This can create problems and waste valuable time if you or conference members are having to repeat themselves constantly. If people are misheard or body language is misread, this can create faux-pas if you are dealing with someone from another region or culture.

    This of course can be solved by improving an Internet connection and limiting bandwidth during video conferences but this can create problems throughout the rest of the network depending on how valuable a high-speed Internet is to your business.

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    Body Language

    Video conferencing room of Mutah University. Humans perceive a lot from how someone's body reacts during conversation and while video conferencing aims to defeat the issue of being unable to see a person, it also creates other problems. As I mentioned, body language can be misread if there is lag or hiccups in the connection but with video conferencing, it is very rare that you will see anything but the head and shoulders of a person. While the face holds a lot of emotion it also does not reveal shaky hands or nervousness that can be picked up from fidgeting which can be critical when dealing with important matters.

    It's also difficult to establish a physical relationship with the person in the form of handshakes, bowing, nods, etc. that are customary in such deals which removes a large portion of contact that establishes a deep feeling of trust between two people.

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    Awkward Communication

    Polycom VSX 7000 in the on position. When video conferencing, you generally want to look at the person's face because you want eye-to-eye contact but you will likely not be looking into the camera if you are doing this because there isn't a video conferencing device that places the camera in that position. Instead you and your video conferencing partner will suffer some disconnect as one speaks and looks into the camera while the other watches until it is his turn, which can feel strange.

    You might also notice that video conferencing creates a sort of sense of urgency. It is because some of us have gotten so used to responding via e-mail and being able to take the time to put together a calculated response that reflects our interests and feelings whereas in video-conferencing you will likely say things as they come to mind—things you might not actually mean or might think aren't such great ideas in retrospect.

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    Is It Really That Bad?

    I do not think so, personally, but I can see where people can draw that conclusion. I just think it will take some time to embrace video-conferencing into our routines like when e-mail or instant messaging was new.

    Frankly, I would prefer video conferencing to text-to-text conferencing because it really is a lot more personable and social than what we all have been using the past couple of years. As time passes, a lot of the disadvantages will die out and it will likely become a preferable means of communication between people and businesses.

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    All images are used for promotional and education purposes only and are listed in the order they appear in this article.

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