I’ve been coaching and having conversations over Zoom since 2015. I remember that during those first few years of this transition to digital methods,  people were hesitant to turn on their video and many preferred audio-only meetings. The lockdown periods of the pandemic changed that completely! Since then, video calls seem to have become the norm for communication. As such, it may seem counterintuitive to advocate for the simplicity of audio calls once more!

What I like about audio-only meetings (like the old-fashioned phone call) is the more relaxed atmosphere it creates. Audio calls strip away the distractions inherent in video calls. In a video call, I am aware of my physical appearance, the backdrop behind me, and how my surroundings are perceived. The same applies for the person I’m conversing with, the distraction of their appearance and their background (and no doubt, they’re distracted too, by the same things!). Company backdrops and blurry backgrounds are supposed to allow us to focus better on our conversation partner. However, have you ever caught yourself wondering what’s behind the blurry background when you notice movement in the area? Or do you ever wonder why your conversation partner’s arm disappears when he or she waves? Add bad lighting to the mix and altogether it can be very distracting.

Audio calls create a more relaxed environment, enabling me to focus on the essence of the conversation itself. I can immerse myself in the words, the tone, and the emotions without being burdened by visual distractions. Audio calls encourage genuine connection and active listening. I do need to listen attentively to fully absorb the nuances of the speaker’s voice and tone.

Audio-only calls offer greater flexibility in many ways. They require less bandwidth than video calls and can take place anywhere. As we don’t have to stare at the screen or the camera we have greater flexibility in how we sit or take notes during a call. With my headset on, an audio call allows me to talk while walking through the office, or I can sit back relaxed with my legs on the desk (which I wouldn’t do on video), meanwhile paying full attention to the conversation. I believe that an audio-only conversation allows me to pay even greater attention to my conversation partner than a video conversation (with all its distractions). In audio-only, I’m all-ears, with 100% attention available for the conversation. 

On the other hand, video calls have their rightful place, particularly when non-verbal cues are crucial, or when visual collaboration is needed. Video adds the dimension of seeing some of the body language of my conversation partner, and this has its benefits too, as not all of the communication is verbal

To video or not to video? The next time you find yourself opting for a video call out of habit, consider the benefits of embracing an audio call instead.  I’ve already updated the booking-tool on my website, you can now indicate your preference.