The ability to visualize ideas is significant. With remote work arrangements still dominating many businesses and industries, having a digital collaboration platform allows dispersed teams to brainstorm issues, create solutions and model options in much the same manner as if they were in person. When groups that must work virtually gather in a common virtual setting, the ability to interact and share ideas on a common digital whiteboard greatly expands their ability to co-create successful solutions and outcomes.
While the collaborative benefits of a mutual work space to create and share is obvious, one limitation has been the inability to meld that capability with video conferencing. The use of interactive video-enabled platforms like Zoom, WebEx, and Teams is prevalent now. Some of us have grown to dread the next Zoom meeting that gets scheduled, but if we look at the positive aspects of video meetings, we have to acknowledge the benefits over just a teleconference call. Combine video with the benefits of a digital collaboration platform and the communication and collaboration results are significantly enhanced when we can virtually work and collaborate as we did when we were face to face.
There are several benefits that come from being able to see the people you’re working with and talking to despite being in different physical locations.
- You can pick up on nonverbal cues. If you only talk on an audio call or share data through a digital whiteboard, you are unable to perceive nonverbal messages such as body language, gestures, and degrees of eye contact. Incorporate the advantage of seeing people, and you can both convey and receive information commonly transmitted through nonverbal formats.
- People can use multiple communication methods. Some people communicate better using spoken or written words; others rely more on arm gestures, facial expressions, and posture. The more communication styles a digital collaboration platform supports, the greater the possibilities for clear interaction.
- Ability to convey intent. If you lean closer to the screen and participants see your image is larger, they can tell you are making a point or emphasizing a key message. If you are also the group leader, your presence on the screen helps convey your position and viewpoint. For example, when people can see you nodding your head or making gestures that indicate, “I’m on board and supportive of this,” they can easily tell where you stand and the pace of work increases.
- Keeping the team engaged. When you can see people during video streaming, you can tell who is paying close attention to the conversation. You can also detect who is distracted or disinterested when you are able to see them (rather than only having their eyes on you).
- Ensuring everyone participates. Sometimes on a teleconference, a few people dominate the session at the expense of the others. There might be six names signed into the session, yet you only hear from four participants regularly and the other two remain silent. For the person conducting the meeting, video makes it easier to perceive when a certain person has not spoken or has not contributed an opinion lately. Video make it easier to involve and include all the people who whose viewpoints you want to hear.
For the reasons above, organizations should create a culture where participating in virtual meetings on video is the norm – the expectation. Leaders should insist that people who participate in virtual meetings use video to interact. They should also choose digital collaboration platforms that provide built-in video capabilities or support video.
We also must ensure that people know how to configure their platforms to effectively view the participants. Consider the pros and cons of different viewing options so you can gain the most value from having participants use video. In some views, all you see is the person talking. Other configurations are more like a gallery: you see everyone in the meeting at the same time. The right answer often depends how many people are in the meeting. For a small team; you may want to see everyone; with a larger group, you may choose to enlarge the person speaking while those who are not talking are reduced in size. Finding the right balance on your screen to see your team effectively helps everyone engage in the best possible communications scenario.