Technology

Video conference vs. in-person meeting: Which is better?

WRITTEN BY
05/13/24
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Fact Box

  • Bell Telephone Laboratories created the prototype for the first video call in 1959. The Picturephone Mod I debuted at the World’s Fair in 1964 and was a “two-way video communication system. It only transmitted one frame every two seconds, but it was clear and had a stable image.”
  • Pcmag.com rated Zoom Meetings as the “best overall” video conferencing software in 2023. 
  • Statista reports that, in 2022, the global video conferencing market was valued at $10.6 billion.
  • A Forbes Insights survey revealed that 84% of business executives prefer to meet in person instead of virtually primarily because doing so will “build stronger, more meaningful business relationships.”

Elisa (In-Person)

Whether it be Zoom, Google Meet, or any other app used for video conferencing, video meetings are simply ‘terrible.’ First of all, many people developed ‘Zoom fatigue’ during the COVID pandemic, and even with most COVID protocols ended, many companies still rely heavily on these meetings. Most importantly, video conferencing has contributed to more issues with work/life balance, as these types of meetings can be accessed at any time, and many do not know how to say no. 

The truth is video conferencing cannot replace real-life interactions. Touching is an important part of face-to-face interactions, such as shaking hands or hugging, and this fundamental role cannot be replaced technologically. Video conferencing has been said to have ruined natural conversation etiquette and the ‘fine art of interrupting.’ In other words, technology takes away from natural aspects of conversation, such as eye contact and flow, and for many, it just feels ‘bizarre.’ 

Further, it is a terrible way to conduct meetings because it makes people ‘self-conscious, distracted, and suspicious.’ Even as technology improves, it stresses people out as they try to fix their surroundings to create a better impression or notice their flaws as they stare at their own faces on the screen. Plus, let’s not forget the slew of technical problems that can contribute to its ineffectiveness, such as audio glitching, screen freezes, and mic problems. 

Video conferencing has contributed to stress and burnout in the workplace, and it can even stifle creativity, as natural conversation and the flow of ideas are stunted. The next time you get invited to a meeting, the best thing to do is to suggest meeting in person first because nothing technological can replace real-life interactions


Luke (Video Conference)

In an ever more global economy, the feasibility of in-person meetings inevitably diminishes. With video conferencing, people from all over the world can meet, and those meetings can be set up quickly, making issues with coordinating schedules essentially disappear. For large gatherings, video conferencing also removes the need to plan an entire event; instead, everyone can log in remotely from home, a coffee shop, or now with technology like Starlink, essentially anywhere in the world. 

Another critical hurdle--the need for sharing computer files and screens--is of no concern with video conferencing but is an incredible headache with in-person meetings, especially if the number of participants is large. Removing the technical headache of getting everyone on the same digital page means that video conference meetings will be shorter and met with fewer technical issues. Video conferencing can also easily be recorded, which is possible with an in-person meeting, but certainly opens up additional complexities that may take time and focus away from important matters. 

Another positive of video conferencing is that a person can be present without needing to be presentable. Perhaps one’s office is a mess, or they have rollers in their hair; regardless, they can still attend a meeting and have a productive session. As such, video conferencing naturally goes hand in hand with remote work, which is better for the environment, as fewer people need to commute to the office. Remote work also allows the economy to continue even during emergencies such as a pandemic. In short, video conferencing’s allowance for more dynamic, economical, and ecological solutions makes it generally better than in-person meetings.

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