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Videoconferencing

At the 1969 World's Fair, one of the most popular exhibits was the AT&T Pavilion. That's because visitors could use what was then called the "Picturephone," an astounding invention that allowed you to simultaneously speak with and see someone who was using a Picturephone at the other side of the Fair. It was a glimpse into a future only the people at Bell Labs had imagined.

Today, of course, the ability to videoconference is being used by businesses every day around the world. Because the camera is tougher than an audience of thousands, it is essential for anyone utilizing the wonders of videoconferencing to develop the skills necessary to seem natural, confident, and authoritative—yet accessible. As you can see from watching politicians, this is not an easy task. However, there are ways to minimize the glitches and maximize the effectiveness of this growing meeting medium.

There are a variety of reasons for choosing videoconferencing:

  • Holding meetings in companies with multiple locations.

  • Holding meetings for various companies in multiple locations.

  • Holding meetings for team projects, when team members are working independently.

  • Holding annual board meetings.

  • Introducing new employees in companies with multiple locations.

  • Introducing new products to employees and/or customers in multiple locations.

  • Training staff in multiple locations.

Videoconferencing versus Face-to-Face

Videoconference is more like an in-person meeting than audio-conferencing because you can see people's faces, expressions, gestures, and movements. But there are still a number of differences, as you can see in the chart on page 231.

Seeing Is Believing: Visual Aids for Videoconferencing

Visual aids are ideal for television or video, to emphasize your message or to clarify important information. Some examples include:

  • 35 mm slides (check the dimensions required with the producer).

  • Videotaped illustrations (check for format requirements).

  • Photographs: must have a matte or dull finish, should be mounted on a pastel-colored graphic card usually in a 4 x 3 ratio (width to height). Again, check with producer (if appropriate) for the right dimensions, or do a test-run in front of a camera.

  • Flip charts.

  • Poster-sized graphics.

  • Maps/models/physical objects.


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