Updated: Apr 12
I have to say, this post from @dudewithsign sign broke my heart for a sec.
I'm the Connecting on Camera person, after all!
But after thinking about it for a bit, I realized he's kinda right.
There's no denying that video has saved our sanity and our lives during Covid. Can you imagine if this had happened in 1995? There wasn't even enough stuff on TV back then to keep you entertained for more than two hours!
It's also saved our lives. Having the option of doing Zoom happy hours and FaceTime meet-ups has made it a lot easier for us to get through this and also comply with safety guidelines by staying home.
But for all their wonderful benefits, video calls have come with some noticeable drawbacks. You see, videos are not the virtual equivalent of popping over to your colleague's desk or a casual conversation with your neighbor.
They are taxing and time-consuming events. And they can feel a bit invasive for many people since the camera allows you to peek inside their homes and private lives.
Plus, they're filled with all sorts of mishaps and awkward moments. And that's just not a fun way to go about your day every day.
So, next time you find yourself thinking: "Should I schedule a video call?" do the other party a favor and ask yourself the following questions first:
1. Does it have to be a video call?
Although we're not at the office, the phrase: "This could've been an email" is very much alive in 2021. Before suggesting a video call ask yourself: can I communicate this clearly and concisely via any other channel such as an email or an instant message? If the answer is "Yes," then it's likely that there is no need to get on Zoom.
2. Could it be a phone call?
Remember phone calls? That thing we used to do when we wanted to talk about things? We've been communicating over the phone with no problems for more than a century now. If it will be too complicated for you to convey your message via the written word, try a phone call before suggesting a video call.
3. Could it be a quick message?
We usually do video calls because we're trying to avoid the hassle of writing an email. Talking face-to-face is quicker and more effective than slaving over details, adding a recipient, or trying not to press that REPLY ALL button. But many workplaces have either internal messaging systems or services like Slack or Trello that allow you to communicate in a faster and more casual way. Take advantage of them!
4. Are you giving them enough time to prepare?
No one's ever been a fan of an impromptu video call, especially now that we spend most of the day in our pj's. If you absolutely need to do a video call with someone, let them know with enough time in advance so that they can prepare. If you're going to FaceTime a friend, shoot them a text to give them a heads up. Just because you've seen what they look like after a long night out doesn't mean that they want you to see them in whatever state of disarray they currently are in!
Video calls are a fantastic way to connect when used effectively. They can help us put faces to names in new connections, reconnect with those whom we are not interacting with every day, and bring a personality to our work and our businesses. Abusing them, however, can lead to people feeling uncomfortable, annoyed, and even resentful. Next time you think of suggesting a video call, take a moment to reflect on whether that interaction will add anything meaningful to your interaction and save those special connections that video allows you to make for moments that truly matter.