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June 5, 2012
4 Tips for Better Video Communication
Last week I was having a conversation with my niece via an iPod touch. Besides being nauseous by the end of our call as I was watching her through the device walking and talking at the same time, here’s what I would see:
  • Half of her head
  • The wall she was sitting in front of
  • A close-up of her eye, nose, or mouth 
Does this sound familiar? As technology speeds forward, we are fortunate to have the ability to connect face-to-face with individuals miles away. It sounds like a simple tool — just look into the screen while you are talking — but many individuals take for granted how they are perceived by their listener based on how they use their device. 

First, the good news:
  • Having the capability to see each other while you are talking from different locations gives your conversation a personal touch.
  • You can see visual expressions and you can broadcast anything that people need to see visually.
The not-so-good-news:
  • Bandwidth can be a problem. Using video on these devices requires more Internet bandwidth than NOT using it, which means that the video is often choppy, pixelated, and degraded. The video does not make you look your best. You don’t have control over the bandwidth of your listener’s Internet providers.
  • Audio and video are not in sync. Sometimes the audio is slightly delayed from the video, which creates a visual distraction that’s hard for most people to tolerate. It’s like watching a foreign film that’s been dubbed over — people’s mouths are moving and you are hearing their words, but they are not lined up.
  • Background distractions. Background images and movement may be distracting. Use your device only when your background is static — a plain wall or a simple picture in the background — instead of a hallway where people are constantly moving.
  • Lack of knowledge. Most individuals do not look directly into their device when speaking. They are usually looking somewhere else. Because they don’t usually look directly into the screen (as they would look directly into the eyes of a face-to-face listener), the listener is distracted and can easily drift. 
Top 4 Tips for a Meaningful Conversation
  1. Always use face-to-face communication skills. The best approach when using your device is to treat it like face-to-face communication in terms of how animated you are and how you move around.
  2. Avoid the close-up. No one wants their face to be magnified. Be careful of how you angle your device. Is your listener only seeing half of your face? Are you so close to your device that your listener can see your pores?
  3. Only speak when you are looking at your device. This helps your listener feel more connected to you and your message.
  4. Test your technology. Ask your listener what they see and hear before you begin the conversation. If technology is not working, your conversation will have more value if you eliminate the visual and go back to the basics by having a phone conversation.
Technology is a powerful tool that can positively or negatively impact our conversations. Make sure you have a positive impact.  

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Stacey Hanke is the founder and communication expert of Stacey Hanke Inc communication. In her book Yes You Can! she reveals practical and immediate skills and techniques to enhance verbal skills to influence others. Stacey helps individuals eliminate the static that plagues communicative delivery to persuade, sell, influence, and effectively communicate face-to-face with a clear message. Learn more about Stacey at www.staceyhankeinc.com.
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