Video conferencing is a method of communicating and conducting meetings using computer video technology. Video conferencing is similar to teleconferencing in that they both allow groups of people to communicate remotely, but video conferencing allows people to see one another on a screen as they talk. Video conferencing can have several advantages and disadvantages as opposed to live meetings and teleconferencing.
A potential advantage of video conferencing is that it can reduce the costs associated with conducting live meetings. Many companies have workers or clients spread out across different cities, states or countries, which can make live meetings very costly. Video conferencing eliminates travel costs. By reducing travel time, it can also increase productivity.
Another benefit of video conferencing is that it allows for face-to-face interaction without being in the same physical location. It can be difficult to build relationships when communication only occurs over the phone or in written correspondence. Video conferencing allows people in meetings to associate words with faces, which can help workers who have never met in the flesh feel more familiar with one another. According to MSNBC, telecommuting may make it more difficult to advance in a company, but using video conferencing can be a lifeline to help alleviate this problem. Video conferencing can also reduce confusion caused by an audio-only conference where it may be difficult to tell who is speaking, especially in large meetings.
A potential drawback of video conferencing is it requires special, and often costly, equipment. According to the US National Security agency, video conferencing systems come in one of two types: dedicated or desktop systems. Desktop systems are added on to existing PCs and require a microphone, speakers, a camera and a monitor, as well as software and possibly add-on cards. Dedicated systems have all the required technology built into a single console. These systems can cost several thousand dollars. Equipment is necessary for each separate physical location that is to be connected to the conference, but several people in the same office could use a single video conferencing station at the same time.
Another potential drawback of video conferencing is interruptions due to equipment malfunctions. If a monitor, computer, software program or camera malfunctions, it can break video and audio feeds and hamper communication. Video quality may also depend on the speed of the user's Internet connection--jittery or lagging video may become a distraction. Other issues like storms and power outages could also potentially interrupt a video conference.