Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Spoiled by video collaboration

I re-learned a very important lesson yesterday. Video collaboration is useful when everyone can follow along, but where it becomes priceless is when you're confused.

I requested a presentation on a particular topic from a partner.  They arranged a salesperson to come and present to us.  The problem was, he didn't understand our business, my goals in asking for the meeting, or the problem I wanted to solve. It was not even a close fit.  We were looking for apples and we got t-shirts.

Don't miss the feedback!
The worst part was, the salesperson didn't know.  We were on an audio call.  The presenter sent along slides just before we started.  (They were from 2005!).  Had I seen them before hand, I could have called it off.  But I didn't.  I just let him go on and sat through his presentation. (Keith Brooks would say it was a Sales Presentation that Sucked).

But that was my fault.  The presenter was on audio.  There was no out-of-band feedback mechanism.  Had he been on video, he could have seen our eyes glazing over.  He would have known we were confused.  Maybe bored.  Or worse.  He could have known to ask questions to ensure our engagement.  But he didn't know. No feedback.

Sleeping?  At least you know how much
I'm paying attention to the presentation.
When you're on video, you can see the audience.   You know when it's time to stop with the slides.  When you have to grab their attention back, be it with a joke, a stretch, or just a check-in.  It's this ability to get the non-verbal feedback that I really appreciate.  It's something that I become so accustom to using video working at Polycom, that I took it for granted.   Just doing an audio-only sales presentation (even with HD Voice) is not interactive enough.

If you think low-quality postage-stamp video is useless you're right.  But today's HD video collaboration, 1:1 or with multiple participants  on the screen, really helps me be more effective.  Certainly it would have helped this seller know that his message didn't get through. I can't imagine having meetings where we're not face-to-face anymore; where audio is my only option.  To me, I've re-learned the lesson:  you're engaged when you can actively participate.   Verbally, non-verbally, some other way.  I'll take video every day.

By the way, don't have business-quality video yet?  Download Polycom's free video client in your favorite device's app store (search "Polycom")  or for your Mac/PC.

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