Voice vs. Video: The Communication Battle of the Future

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Through science fiction, we were promised a future filled with flying cars, colonies on Mars, and—perhaps most importantly—video calling. Yet, it’s already 2018, and we aren’t any closer to hover technology or a Martian journey—and video calling has hardly caught on.

In offices and homes around the U.S., the dominant form of communication is inarguably text-based: mobile messages, social media, and email. In fact, the average American adult is 2.6 times more likely to send a text message than pick up the phone. Still, voice calling remains dramatically more popular than video calls, despite the fact that there are plenty of video technologies available.

4 Benefits of Voice

Since the turn of the century, voice has dominated communication, and once you consider these four benefits, you will understand why:

1. Less Demand on Attention

Your brain and your voice are required to make voice calls—but nothing else. Unlike text, which requires manual input from your fingers, you can perform relatively mindless actions with your hands while you communicate over the phone. This provides greater freedom and potentially greater productivity, as you accomplish tasks while communicating.

2. Fewer Built-in Distractions

Because voice appeals to only one sense—hearing—you are unlikely to experience distractions within the communication. One person speaks, the other listens and responds, and the communication is effective. Conversely, in video and text, distractions abound. A single email can require 30 minutes to respond to thanks to the inbox interruptions or entertainment on the web. Video requires sight, and discrepancies between image and sound as well as the behavior of users on the screen can pull a user’s attention away from the matters at hand.

3. Ease of Communication

Humans communicate in all sorts of ways. In addition to denotations of words, you perceive meaning through body posture, facial expressions, and inflection and tone of voice. Written communications eliminate nearly all these cues; video contains them all; and voice limits your perception to just those that matter, i.e., words, tone, and inflection. While you might get distracted by a person’s body language in video, you can perfectly pick up on sarcasm, sympathy, and other emotions through just voice.

4. Multiple Connections

Conference calls are easy on almost any voice-capable device. Several users on diverse technology can connect remotely to a single call, enhancing the efficiency of communication within a group.

Why Video Might Still Be the Future

Despite these obvious benefits of voice—especially in the business environment—video calling is enthralling to plenty of users. The frequency of video chat is increasing every year perhaps because it seems to offer a more personal experience than voice or text, which hardly invites communication partners into each other’s lives. In the business realm, some video call services have added useful features, such as file share and text messaging, which make business communications more effective.

What’s more, many technology providers are enhancing their video communication offerings with virtual reality machines and other tech that more accurately simulates face-to-face meetings. Called telepresence, the tech aims to provide users with more realistic sensations of a place from afar, including the ability to manipulate the remote environment through robot controls. As you might expect, this is wildly popular with global corporations that require frequent communication with distant offices.

Why You Should Still Invest in Voice

Even though video conferencing technology is steadily improving, a video call will never be a one-for-one substitute for voice calls, especially in business. Not only will voice always provide the benefits listed above, but it is a cheaper, easier solution than video, and it almost certainly always will be. Voice communications, like Cisco voice, do not require such a heavy-duty network: VoIP voice calls use eight to 24 kilobits per second, while video calls can draw 128 kilobits per second to a full megabit per second. Plus, voice communications do not need cameras and monitors; just a regular handset should suffice.

Video call systems are impressive—and expensive. There is no guaranteeing that partners and clients will have compatible video systems or any video communications options at all. While you can steadily add video conferencing and calling tech to your business’s communications arsenal, you will always—always—need voice.

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