In the business world, the ability to read others is essential for success. Winning a deal, managing a staff, or negotiating a contract requires insight into how the other parties are thinking. To influence others, we must gain their confidence and cater our message carefully based on verbal and non-verbal cues we receive. Often we are only as effective as the tools that are available to us for communicating. When visual cues are missing, as is the case in an audio conference that lacks interactive video conferencing, we can lose up to 80% of what is communicated to us through body language.
For example, law enforcement interviewers know that when a suspect is asked a question, it is important to watch the movement of his or her eyes when they are answering. One theory states that if a suspect is remembering something, their eyes will move to the right, in an outward manifestation of the brain activating the memory center. This tells the interviewer that the suspect is not making something up, as would be the case by moving the eyes to the left (a demonstration of activating the cognitive part of the brain used for creative story telling). The interviewer may also watch for lack of eye contact, nodding of the head, self-grooming, and fidgeting as signs of guilt or innocence.
Losing the ability to see the suspect puts the interviewer at a distinct disadvantage. It is no different in the business world, where we need to see the complete picture to effectively get our message across and understand the true point of view of the other parties. Companies that invest in video conferencing for remote meetings have this advantage.