Video conferencing has evolved from awkward meetings to a daily part of productive businesses. High-speed Internet has solved many of the issues that once plagued online meetings, such as audio and video lag, slow-loading presentations, and unreliable screen shares, further adding to that productivity.
Other technology, including unified communications (UC), has given rise to reliable virtual meetings and made video conferencing one of the key components of a successful business. Having video conferencing integrated into a single interface shared with unified messaging, collaboration apps, and mobile UC apps makes strategizing and sharing information efficient and effective. Discover more about video conferencing below.
Video conferencing offers a virtual meeting room for users to connect from almost anywhere in the world. Users can participate in the meeting in several ways: using the cameras on their desktops, calling in from mobile devices, or using screen share options to discuss documents or presentations. Video conference apps often have added features for taking notes or recording specific segments of meeting—or the entire thing. Many also have real-time, private chat screens that only selected users will see. Meetings can easily be recorded and replayed for future use.
Video conferencing empowers remote communication for work teams and business-client relationships. By cutting out the need for physical space to conduct meetings, video conferencing allows remote workers to contribute from their own home offices. The virtual meeting room also means clients and collaborators don’t have to meet in-person to discuss ideas; if someone thinks of a phenomenal idea, the team can talk collectively about it in minutes rather than scheduling a meeting days or weeks later.
This technology can also be used for training sessions, tutorials, or troubleshooting problems remotely. For example, if you’re discussing a broad topic, such as designing a new website with a client, your experts in SEO, user interface, and marketing can all chime in for a portion of the meeting, then return to their work instead of sitting through an entire session where their input is only a small part of the bigger picture.
What video conferencing ultimately does is boost productivity by making meetings more efficient. Attendees can quickly share a report or quickly pull up a relevant web page right from their desktops. Remote users can join the meeting through a mobile app and send a real-time photo to the group, perhaps warning of foreboding weather conditions in the field. Whatever needs to be shared can be done quickly and easily. Organizers can also structure meetings by serving as moderators, ensuring the team stays on topic.
Because video conferences are easy to use, they encourage teams to collaborate more often. This benefit gives them an edge over competitors who have not yet adopted video conferencing as part of their UC, especially when it comes to putting plans that need team approval or minor tweaks in motion.
There’s a human side to video conferencing that shouldn’t be overlooked: virtual meetings are easy to attend and give remote employees a voice equal to their in-office peers. And it’s not just remote employees who appreciate the convenience, on-site employees often enjoy the ease of accessing meetings from their desks. UC notifications allow users to monitor outside situations from the same interface or screen as their meeting, so if an important email comes through during the meeting, they’ll be able to prioritize it as needed.
For professionals who work in the field or a home office, remote access to meetings can save needless trips back to a central hub and give them the freedom to work with little interruption. These employees can even communicate internationally—and if they don’t have access to their laptops during a meeting, they can easily call in and watch the recorded conference at a later time.
A good UC will have video conference options built in to its interface, often through instant messaging programs. Some systems may cost extra for better speed or hosting for many users, but for most small-business users (typically meeting groups of two to fifteen people), the less powerful, free or low-cost versions may work just fine.
Video conferencing isn’t the only UC feature to benefit small businesses. Read our next article on mobility to learn more about how mobile devices work with UC systems to enhance business success.