Reconsidering the Conference Call


If unable to meet in-person, I recommended holding key meetings via video conferencing instead of conference calls. To help support my view, consider the McGurk Effect. It’s a fascinating way our brain works.

The effect demonstrates how what we see actually changes what we hear. In the video below, the person says "bah,” but when we see "bah" our minds transform "bah" into "fah" when he shapes his lips to form the letter “f.” We hear “fah” even though he says “bah" the entire time.

Link to Video (Skip to 30 sec)
Human beings, for the most part, have evolved to become highly visual creatures. That said, what important cues might we miss when we fail to see people during key meetings? During conference calls we could try to assess someone’s tone but we miss body language signals that may lead to miscommunication or misunderstandings.

Consider when someone agrees with an “OK.” Body language and facial expressions may reveal an enthusiastic OK (wide smile with elevated shoulders) or an unenthusiastic “I guess I agree” OK (sarcastic smile with collapsed or shrugged shoulders). Through video conferencing we can better dip-stick how people feel about certain issues and it may allow us to have more productive follow-through by potentially mitigating unnecessary misunderstandings.

On a related note, for a hilarious take on conference calls, please view this video.

Link to Video

The barking dog gets me every time!

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