Meetings are a fact of life, and it’s also true that there is just no substitute for face-to-face time. If there are important decisions to be made, then it’s normally best to make them in person – the phone and email just aren’t good substitutes. There is so much nonverbal communication that happens in an exchange that such methods of communication can strip out a significant proportion of content, leading to misunderstandings and potentially serious problems. At the same time, however, meetings can be extremely inconvenient, especially when they involve lots of people and take place internationally. video conferencing is one way around this. Technology has progressed to the point where telepresence video conferencing can be a good substitute for the real thing, avoiding the need for expensive and time-consuming travel. There may be occasions when you still need to meet in person, since no system, no matter how advanced, is perfect; nevertheless, audio visual conferencing can be a useful way to ‘meet’ now.

Travel is expensive and time consuming, and it is often hugely costly in terms of man-hours to send staff to a meeting or conference – especially when they are likely to spend many hours travelling for the sake of an hour or two in the same room as someone else. There is also an environmental impact to be considered, something that many businesses are now aware of. Even if they are not, then this is going to have an increasing financial effect, as this is realistically the only way of limiting Carbon emissions. Thus travel will increasingly start to show up on companies’ balance sheets.

In a connected world, there is less and less reason to travel to meetings, however, and large firms and charities are finding video conferencing an economical alternative to doing so. Audio visual conferencing can practically give the impression of being in the same room as someone else, and is far more sophisticated than a Skype call – which, although incredible by the standards of recent years, is behind the competition in this sense. Telepresence video conferencing is a step closer to that all-important face-to-face meeting, for which there is realistically no substitute. You might not be able to shake hands with someone, but you will be able to see them close-to, see their expression and be able to put their words into context – something all but impossible with even a phone call, let alone email. It’s a technology that has recently come of age, and is the perfect solution to the time and financial costs associated with globalisation.

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