We’ve heard it all a hundred times before. The face to face meeting is dead. With the rapid growth of internet speeds it’s no longer necessary to travel to other cities and countries to meet with your clients. A high quality video call is just a skype dial away and won’t cost you a cent. While this seems great on paper, the technology is simply not there yet. No matter how seamless video calls become they will never be comparable to a good old-fashioned face to face visit.
I logged into a GoToMeeting call the other day and everything was going smoothly. I was connected to a 50mbit internet connection at the local Chamber of Commerce, and had all the required software installed on my computer to complete the call. The chat was moving along until the inevitable happened… h-e-l-l-o siiii r r , aw werwr, you th – er-eeee? Despite having an excellent internet connection and brand new laptop I still experienced a severe service interruption and was forced to pick up the phone to call the person on the other end of the chat, essentially defeating the entire purpose of the video call.
I estimate that a good 40% of my video chats experience some kind of connectivity issue on a regular basis, independent of the country or location that I make the call. Since the technology requires a stable internet connection from all parties, there are always connectivity problems when any one of the user’s connection craps out. Compared to a standard phone call, this issue is simply unacceptable, and as a result I have demoted video calls to a last resort solution. One simply cannot risk having an important client meeting ruined by someone’s poor internet connection.
Beyond these technological limitations, video calls are simply not all that great. They’re like drinking a delicious wine and then being forced to spit it out, or having to wear a condom during sex. There is a constant reminder that I am separated from the individual on the other end of the call, and our screens are the dividers.
It is much harder to read emotional cues from someone on a video call compared to being present with them in the room. There is an intangible personal and connective quality about face to face meetings that will never be duplicated by technology, no matter how hard we try.
The next time you want to make a great impression on a key client or have an important meeting, buy a plane ticket and go visit them in their own office. Not only will it show them that you care about their project, but you will be given the opportunity to form a personal connection that is infinitely harder to achieve through a video chat. These connections form the bedrock of business, and we must make sure that technology doesn’t get in the way.
Article by Peter Wywrot