An exotic creature roams the halls at the LifeSize corporate headquarters in Austin: Luvidus Videoconfurus. The transient nature of the beast means sightings are rare, but there is one sure way to draw it out: Schedule an audio-only conference call. I had never seen this creature before, but I can now bear witness to its strange behavior: moaning (Nooooo! Don’t tell me the meeting is over audio!), teeth gnashing, agitation, and finally a glassy eyed stare born of spending too much time communicating with a group of people over a phone line.
Before joining LifeSize four months ago, I had never worked for a company that uses video conferencing, so my experience with audio conference calls, like most, has been one of necessity. We all experience this: Some calls are productive while others, more often than not, waste valuable time. Not to mention the missed nonverbal cues and general impersonal nature of holding a group audio call. But there is an escape in being able to hit the mute button and catch up on e-mail while keeping one ear open for anything remotely related to you and your job.
So the transition to conducting most meetings via video conferencing takes an adjustment, in my experience. You must be “on” all the time and cannot multitask like you can on a phone call. But that’s the beauty of it: The face-to-face interaction, especially at the life-like quality delivered by LifeSize video conferencing systems, facilitates rich communications and requires you to be direct and to the point. Most people don’t schedule a video call unless it’s important. Meetings are shorter and more productive as a result. And it is great to feel like I have already met my colleagues in India and other countries around the world.
I’m beginning to understand the revulsion my colleagues have for audio-only calls. I’m not sure if I am going native or what, but maybe this creature – this Luvidus Videoconfurus – is not quite as exotic as I had first thought. I did not have the creature in me when I joined LifeSize. But then….someone just scheduled a conference call…audio only…Noooooo!!!