When video conferencing, spend time to build the relationship

Tuesday, May 24 2011

Businesses are increasingly choosing to invest in web conference technology as a way to save money on travel costs. This is a wise investment, and as the use of this technology increases, the business and personal etiquette that surrounds telepresence communication must change. The New York Times submits that there are some small actions that can be performed to humanize this experience.

According to psychologists, direct eye contact during a conversation is an important way to convey trust and cement social ties. This is difficult when people look at a computer screen but are looked at by a webcam slightly above that screen. In business meetings, trust and certainty are important components of any conversation. So how can this problem be remedied?

Professor Thomas Lewis of the University of California has an idea. According to Dr. Lewis, people we already know, like friends and family, seem to be immune from the distancing that a lack of eye contact creates. To mitigate this, Dr. Lewis suggests making small talk and chatting at the start of a teleconference meeting. The familiarity that this creates will make a more comfortable atmosphere for the meeting that will follow.