The business research consulting firm institute Frost & Sullivan predicts a boom in video conferencing in Europe particularly among large- and medium-sized companies. It’s not hard to see why either. Video communications makes planning easier, and can save travel costs, time, and last but not least, the environment.
At the same time, new technologies such as high-speed broadband connections and high definition displays make video increasingly efficient and convenient to use.
Overseas meetings are prime candidates to be conducted via video given the huge costs of international travel. However, often businesses are surprised when they find these negotiations fail to bear fruit – despite crystal clear audio and HD video. One, possibly overlooked, reason for this is simple – the cultural differences between parties.
The success of a deal is only guaranteed by the meticulously planned formation of a business relationship. If it is a new client, what I suggest is this. Ideally several video conference meetings should be organised in advance in order to form a real personal relationship before getting down to business (if time allows of course). In these scenarios video conferencing really shows its strengths because several time-consuming and costly meetings can be avoided.
During these conferences consider your body language and clarity – if you’re speaking in English as often is the case in international calls. Make sure you speak clearly and enunciate well. It can be embarrassing to potential business partners to ask you to repeat things or speak slower. They may just not ask out of politeness and then miss out on the perhaps vital details and scupper any chance you had at a deal.
Dress formally too, you’re unlikely to offend anyone in a white shirtand tie (but not your Christmas tie.). It’s great that your office is relaxed and you can roll around in a 20-year-old Nirvana t-shirt but it’s unlikely this will go down well in an international meeting – regardless of whether you’re there virtually or physically.
The best way to think of video conferencing meeting is to imagine it’s a real traditional in-person meeting otherwise you can find yourself in an embarrassing and costly situation. Used well video conferencing can accelerate deals, improve sales and extend your reach whilst reducing costs, environmental impact and saving a considerable amount of time.