Writing this post in mid 2022, I want to comment on modern communications technologies. Especially due to the pandemic, the “modern” technologies of cellular telephones and virtual meetings (Zoom, etc.) have become more common in the world of business. This is for better or worse, depending on point of view. These technologies are great because they free us from the constraints of the office walls. They allow remote working (and sometime remote playing). But, with all things, there are limitations. I, personally, find it frustrating when I am talking on a cell phone and having a bad connection. I dislike having to “work” to get through a telephone call when hearing the other party is difficult. Parties often spend time trying to find a better location with more “bars.” The conversation gets hijacked by technical difficulties and subverts the real purpose of the call. Similarly, video calls frequently suffer from technical glitches. When the communications become like walkie-talkies “simplex,” instead of duplex discussions, it is a problem. I mention this because I think it is important to be cognizant of such things. Making the other party work to hear you is inconsiderate. Sometimes it is unavoidable when on the move, but if this is a repetitive problem, especially when regularly working remotely, it is time to do something. Solutions include slowing down the conversation and listening carefully to be sure the other party’s words are clear. Beyond that, consider improving wi-fi connections or using a traditional phone, even VOIP. The negative impressions created when these problems occur are far worse than spending the money to communicate clearly. Most of the time, the subject matter I’m discussing is difficult enough without technology making it more so and I try to be aware of impressions of this sort and how clients or prospects will react to communications.
David spends significantly more time talking on the telephone than I do, but I share his frustrations. The poor quality of some people’s internet connections make it difficult to have a meaningful telephone conversation. This is compounded when the conversation is via a platform, such as Zoom, that includes both audio and video components. Constant reminders for someone to “un-mute” their microphone become tiresome, particularly when there are numerous participants. In addition, some people, even with all the experience we now have with remote working and everything that goes with it, still have no idea how to position the camera on whatever device (computer, tablet, or phone), leading to other participants’ staring up their nose, or half their face, or their wayward cat who keeps walking in front of the camera. My advice, to enhance the experience of all participants is: (1) invest in a high speed internet connection or go someplace where one can be accessed; (2) set up the phone conference or video chat in a location that is free of clutter and background noise (including whirring ceiling fans); (3) for video conferences, illuminate the facial area, wear appropriate attire (no one wants to see anything inappropriate if a participant suddenly needs to stand up!), maintain good posture, and learn the location of the camera so that eye contact can be maintained; (4) test the on screen appearance of all participants in the room on camera, for video calls, and for phone calls, ensure everyone can be heard, particularly when using a speaker phone; and (5) learn how to use whatever equipment is required for the conference (this includes learning how to use features on cell phones, such as “mute”). As with many things in life, advance preparations will go a long way in making phone calls and video conferences a success.