Video webcasting will become a core part of enterprise communications strategy for everything from internal training, sales calls and interaction with customers.

That's the conclusion of a survey last month of 230 US employees from Chicago-based West Unified Communications, which provides video conferencing solutions. The survey found 54 percent of employees regularly use video conferencing. Of those, 70 percent use free services, like Facebook or Skype, and 23 percent use paid enterprise services.

Collaboration and Efficiency

Using videos internally and externally can support better collaboration and more efficient meetings, with 73 percent of people declaring that they are more attentive and engaged on video conference calls than on audio-only calls. And 82 percent say they make a greater effort to prepare for video calls.

Is there something about being on camera that turns the pressure up? Luis Ramirez, director of channel marketing at West Unified Communications, said the extent of advance prep is higher than expected.

Video is Popular

While video conferencing isn’t yet the go-to tool and triggers certain anxieties among introverts and the camera shy, it’s a rising star. Ramirez said it's definitely “not far” from being the preferred way to communicate, especially for digital and remote knowledge workers.

Luis Ramirez headshot

In a future study, Ramirez said West Unified Communications will examine a bigger sample size and study more in-depth the amount of preparation time and how long meetings run.

“My prediction is those [video] meetings are happening more efficiently. What may have been an hour-and-a-half meeting may be wrapped up in 45 minutes,” he said.

Ramirez finds a lot of organizations are still early adopters to using video conferences, so it’s a learning experience. “They’re not concerns if you address them. If an employee says they’re not comfortable on video, it might be a training topic,” he said.

How to Use Video 

Clearly, face-to-face meetings — even via video — have a solid future. But before teams jump into more video conferences, consider these suggestions:

  1. Make sure the organization has a clearly articulated video strategy in place. Unless businesses take the lead in selecting and sanctioning video services, workers will turn to free services, which can create a hodgepodge of technologies and potential security threats.
  2. Invest in the right lighting. It makes a difference. Train people about the right ways to light the room and the people in it. Open the blinds or turn off overhead lights if it casts a shadow. Check for simple fixes.
  3. Check what's in the background before the call starts. While you don’t need a static background, the camera should focus on the speaker in the middle. Dress appropriately. Vague background movement is fine and can actually keep viewers visually engaged, but avoid jarring movement, Ramirez said.
  4. Consider background noises. In an urban office, set up in a room that minimizes street noises. Remote workers should make sure barking dogs and giggling children are out of the room before the call starts.
  5. When running a webinar with a presenter and large audience, encourage presenters to at least use video if there are no other visuals. With the “show-and-tell” element, engagement goes way up.
  6. Be creative when using video for sales and marketing goals. Define what the video conference is for and what the context is for projects. When Alaska Airlines rebranded, dancers, a new logo and a Boeing in the backdrop were all part of the big reveal.

The bottom line: Video is more than just a talking head. It should be an immersive digital customer experience.