The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: “We want to use video conferencing...”

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Question: We are a multi-site business and spend large amounts of time travelling to meetings. Our MD wants to set up video conferencing but we’re not convinced it’s the right way to go about things. Susan

Answer: Video conferencing appears to be the solution for multi-site businesses. What could be easier than sitting in front of your PC or a large screen and chatting to each other? You save time, money, wear and tear and it’s environmentally friendly. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that.

Businesses turn to video conferencing forgetting that the actual issue is their communications strategy. They then wonder why it doesn’t work. So first of all consider how information is disseminated, whether decision making is sufficiently delegated and whether meetings should be held at all. A well functioning team should only need to meet infrequently. Once you’ve had this strategic conversation video conferencing will sit in its rightful place.

Participants will need training and coaching. Sitting in front of a screen and contributing effectively to debate is not as easy as it seems! There is an unconscious level of anxiety about “performing”, the subtle nuances of body language that we are used to can be missed. Conversations can be stilted, or disjointed, protocols are unclear. Socialisation, important for improving productivity and communication, is somehow compromised.

So then, how do you approach your MD? First of all consider whether the reluctance is a result of your own anxieties and be honest with yourselves. If the business case isn’t robust, take that issue to your MD. Have the strategic discussion mentioned earlier and once you’ve done both of these, a reasoned decision can be made about video conferencing.

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Laura Murphy is the founder of mtc2 ltd, a management consultancy, training and coaching company. Laura is an organisation development specialist and business coach. If you have a problem then contact her at laura@mtc2.co.uk

Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.

• Visit the website on www.mtc2.co.uk or click on the external link above right.