Audio-call and conference-call technologies have been around for decades, but video calls are gaining traction across the globe recently. As mobile Internet bandwidth and connectivity improves, mobile apps and tools for video call are becoming popular. The early days of video calls were experimental at best, with lag between video and audio, blurry images, and of course, poor and unreliable connection speeds that interfered with the entire process.
But video calling has undeniably improved, and even been optimized specifically for modern businesses through visual voicemail. Is it fair to suggest that video calls are inherently better than audio calls now?
Advantages of Audio Calls
Even though it’s an older technology, audio calling offers some distinct advantages:
- Lower bandwidth demands: Today’s video, even when transmitted at average Internet speed, is crystal clear. But processing and transmitting all that information demands significant bandwidth. If the majority of your employees are using video calls to do their meetings, you’ll need to invest in upgraded Internet, which in turn increases your costs. If you don’t, the collective pull will interfere with your connectivity, and ultimately productivity. Audio calls don’t entail this bandwidth burden.
- More callers: Unless your Internet is top of the line, there’s an upper limit to how many people can video conference at once. If you’re trying to connect multiple participants in one location, an audio call is a better option; since you’re transmitting less total data per caller, bandwidth demands are significantly reduced, delays are less of an issue, and you’ll be less prone to errors.
- Better mobility and options: You can take audio calls while driving into work, when walking, or even while multitasking at your desk (though this isn’t recommended). When you’re doing a video call, you have to make sure you’re appropriately dressed and in a location that lacks any visual distractions.
Advantages of Video Calls & Meetings
Video calls have some worthwhile advantages, though, over emails, voice calls and snail mail.
- Body language: In a somewhat contentious study, researchers found that up to 93 percent of communication is non-verbal. We use body language and facial expressions to complement our spoken words, but alterations in those factors, even if slight, can have a massive impact on the shape and development of a conversation. Video calls make it possible to see these changes, even over vast distances, which reduces the possibility of misinterpretation and allows for a more natural style of dialogue.
- Interruptions: One of the biggest problems with audio conference calls is the possibility (or, some would argue, inevitability) of people speaking over one another. This makes it difficult to time your talking points with other people, especially if a significant distance adds a delay. Video calls resolve this problem, at least somewhat, because they allow participants to see when other people are about to speak, or have finished, rather than having to rely only on audio cues.
- Personality: Finally, video calls allow more personal interaction in conversations, which can be more useful in some cases than others. For example, if you’re trying to win over a new client, it may help to see one another so you can joke and make small talk as if you’re there in person. If you’re partnering with colleagues on a mutual project, seeing each other can increase the sense of camaraderie. This advantage is more subjective than the others, but you may still find it helpful in shaping more effective interactions.
The Bottom Line
As you might expect, there isn’t one type of call that’s inherently “better” than another. Audio calls and video calls excel in different areas. Which type of call you choose will depend on your current needs, and how you plan to employ those communications.
If you can, try to become adept with both audio and video calls so you can rely on a mix for your business needs. Since each mode of communication offers distinct advantages, your best bet is to employ all of them (especially if you use them in applications for which they’re best suited).