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The Evolution of the Conference Call

Business Services & Best Practices Headquarter Highlights Technology & Innovation Office

For most, the days of faxing a contract are long gone. Technology has continued to streamline the way brokers run business, increasing efficiency. However, though we have learned how to transmit crucial data, we are yet to figure out how Captain Kirk so easily transported himself whenever and wherever he deemed necessary. Maybe we all just need a Scotty?

For those of us without a personal Scotty, we typically turn to a conference call when a personal meeting not be attainable, but just as the fax machine was thrown out, scores of companies have tossed the traditional conference call. Many, I would add, have taken it a step further and created a culture that does not even allow it.

When a meeting cannot be done in-person, the primary go-to is now the innovative follow up: video conferencing. Below are three of the numerous reasons companies embrace, if not mandate, video conferencing rather than a typical phone call:

#1: Improved Communication: Frequently, what comes out of our mouths is only half of what we really think and/or feel. Video conferencing allows communications to occur far beyond simple auditory interaction. We can see reactions to pitches, comfort or discomfort in conversation, and the engagement of those we are speaking with.

Forbes Insights conducted a July 2017 global survey of over 300 executives. The research shows that 62 percent of executives agree that relative to conference calls, video conferencing significantly improves the quality of communication. In addition, 50 percent of those surveyed believe video conferencing also improves the degree of understanding.

#2: Efficiency: Does your client live eight hours away? Is your team or client-mix spread over multiple states? Video conferencing allows EVERYONE to connect into meetings when it might otherwise not make sense. While technology has created opportunities for mobile workforces, rotating offices, etc., it has also created challenges in bringing the right group together at the right time. Scheduling can be difficult, if not impossible.

Video conferencing allows anyone to connect at relatively anytime, anywhere. Typically, all that is needed is internet connectivity and a device or computer with video capability (yes, even mobile devices work). Depending on what is being presented, speeds of equal to or just north of 1Mbps may be required. However, it is easier than you think. Think of how often your kids or grandchildren are getting on FaceTime, or a variation of a video call, enabled via software tied to their mobile device. This is not a fad; it is the new norm for businesses that has been a standard for personal devices for some time now.

#3: Personal Interaction and Collaboration: Personal touch is something that a call will never replace, but video conferencing is the next best option. While the video or visual display options can certainly assist the visual learner and better explain thoughts in a myriad of non-verbal contexts, video conferencing is so much more than that:

  • Imagine logging into a call during rivalry week with a client. When his/her screen comes up you see them sporting a t-shirt and hat of your alma mater’s most hated foe- and the jeers and taunts begin.
  • Imagine logging in for a team call and seeing someone with a birthday cake with your name in icing, full of candles- which they all force you to blow out after singing to you in unison.
  • Imagine connecting to see your client in a cast and hearing of the recent skiing trip (and epic fall), followed by your client pulling up Google Earth to show you the EXACT location it occurred, and the best cabin to rent just down the road if you’re after untouched powder.

All such experiences undoubtedly build rapport, assist in garnering trust, and lend insight via humor and sarcasm to the personality and individual traits of those we’re connected with- infinitely better than a typical conference call ever would.

If you’re wondering where to start, simply search the internet for tutorials on video conferencing as there are thousands of videos. There are also hundreds of applications you can use -some are free, some are not- but all will typically provide a “how to” before you start. Or heck… there’s always Scotty…

Christopher E. Falk, SIOR, CCIM

Christopher E. Falk, SIOR, CCIM

Executive Vice President - Principal, Newmark Knight Frank ACRES
Salt Lake City, UT
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