I was chatting with a friend and discussed about how difficult we find having conference call meetings at work, especially when all are speaking in different English accents. My friend, who uses English only as a second language, was worried that since he is having problems understanding his counterparts during conference calls, he will also be having problems communicating when he goes to the U.S.
I had a bad experience once when I was in a conference call with a client in Hanoi with a Vietnamese, a German and a Korean. My brain was so busy trying to listen and understand them in the three different English accents that I only had a vague idea what was discussed. I couldn't remember what I said during the call, but I'm sure I didn't make much sense myself.
It got so much better when I finally flew to Hanoi and met them in person. Seeing their faces and watching them as they speak made it much easier for me to understand them better.
As such, I can probably deduce that when we were on a conference call, I was only using one of my five senses, i.e. hearing, to try to understand the message and hence my brain may be on overload trying to hear the message as well as to hear the non-verbal messages through their voice pitch, register and prosody in order to take in the full message transmitted. But when we meet in person however, we take in message through sight as well, watching their facial expressions and body language.
So I suggested to my friend if he can carry out the calls via video conference rather than just voice. I got to know about www.appear.in recently when someone wanted to connect with us at work.
I have not used it before and so I tried it out with him, and was surprised with it myself on how easy it was to use. All you need to do is to create a URL link and send the link to anyone you want to connect with. They just need to use the URL address and voilà, the meeting is on. There is no need to register or sign in to anything. Just the URL address will do.
But when it comes to some companies, like the one he's in, it's policy that prevents him from using stuff like that, even though it makes communication all the more effective.
Well, policy is policy; can't run from away from it.