Video email has the potential to improve business communication

Last week a colleague of mine showed me how his business has begun using video emails to straighten relationships with customers and employees.  Video email typically is a normal HTML email message which contains a thumbnail, button or link that the recipient clicks to view a streaming video clip from the sender.  He happens to be using a service called Instant Video Generator.  Other examples include ASA's VIDITalk, My VideoTalk.NET and Video Mail Studio.

In our world in which the majority of our communication with others is now in text email messages, I find video mail very interesting.  It is now commonplace for business relationships to go from start to finish without the participants ever seeing each other face-to-face -in some cases without ever even hearing each others voices.  Is video email a means for us to develop stronger relationships?

Apart from text formatting (bold print, italics, colors, etc...) and "smileys" email provides little means to convey the nuances of communication - things like tone, expression and inflection.  Voice conversations are a much richer form of communication, and face-to-face meetings provide visual cues such as facial expressions and body language offering the richest communication of all. 

Rich communication is critical to establishing and maintaining relationships.  Voice and video humanize the message that is being communicated and make it a more personal interaction between the participants.  While recorded video emails are not live interactions, they may help to personalize a somewhat cold, impersonal medium.  It would seem that most recipients of a properly targeted and presented video email (no video email spam. please!) are more likely to click the link to view the message than to click the delete button.  Probably more so initially due to the novelty of the concept.

Video email does present some unique challenges:

  • Cameras to capture video are not yet ubiquitous on PC desktops.
  • Almost everyone experiences camera shyness to some degree -  at least until they become comfortable with the idea of being on-camera.   Since video emails are prerecorded, and not live, the ability to re-record and edit the message until the sender is satisfied with it can mitigate this somewhat.
  • Users of video email will need to be careful to make sure their messages are delivered appropriately.  More thought and effort certainly needs to go into the preparation of a video email than composing a simple textual one.  This will be particularly true of video emails sent to large groups of people for marketing, education or other purposes.

Organizations are now beginning to look back to technology for productivity improvements and cost savings. I expect that video email will become more popular as a method to strengthen distributed relationships and build virtual teams.

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