Before September 11, 2001, videoconferencing was becoming more popular. The distractions of not-fully-developed technology were being overcome and the media was increasing in use-for ongoing meetings as well as formal conference presentations. Some people are fairly proficient with the use of videoconferencing-understanding when, where, how, and why. Most of us are relatively ignorant, a dangerous position when videoconferencing on an individual and group level is exploding.
Finally there's a book that guides us through the many important aspects of this emerging field. Lead author Janelle Barlow is an accomplished speaker with an international reputation. The co-authors work for the same consulting firm. They have extensive experience participating in videoconferences, so they've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Realizing that there was not a good comprehensive layman's book in the field, they did the research and prepared a tool to educate and prepare us. Their perspective is that videoconferencing is growing, but will not replace face-to-face meetings. The new technology has its place, and reading this book will help you understand where that "place" is in the grand scheme of human-to-human communication.
The authors propose that there are four habits to learn and embrace to look good and have a high level of effectiveness. The habits, which are each explained-taught-in separate chapters, are Leverage Your Choices (videoconferencing is not always appropriate), Think Prime Time (viewers expect you to look good-and professional . . . just like what they see on commercial television), Make Technology Your Friend (it all works for you, if you let it . . . but then, there's Murphy's Law), and Maximize Your Presence (the little tricks of the trade to improve your appearance and presentation).
Rather than throw readers directly into the deep end of the pool, the authors invest the firsts section of their book in a valuable explanation of videoconferencing's position, opportunities, and limitations. After they've presented their habits, they conclude with a comprehensive checklist, legal issues like copyrights, and a perspective on the future of the field. More added value comes from the appendices on storyboarding and commonly mispronounced words. Included are a bibliography, index, and a comprehensive list of terms used in the field. Vignettes about experiences with videoconferencing spice up each chapter, providing a lightness and a sort of permission to be human.
This is a developing medium, not a science. Learn from this book, try videoconferencing, allow yourself to make some mistakes, and build your competence and confidence. The future is here.