You’re going to click “Send” dozens of times today — and so are your team members.
You’re going to type some text, reread it, rearrange it to make sure it’s clear, overestimate your success in doing so, and then click “Send.” These are likely emails, but they may be text messages or even social messages. Many will be important and valuable. You’ll have a lot riding on the outcomes of these messages — an appointment set, a signed contract, an important thank-you, or perhaps a promotion and raise.
And yet you’re entrusting these messages to a form of communication short on clarity, short on personality, and short on results. Sending the same black text on the same white screen doesn’t get the job done like it once did.
Whether you’re in leadership, management, sales, recruiting, or any other role inside your organization, you largely win through trust, empathy, and differentiation. In other words, you win through people. So, communication and connection are necessary to produce conversion. But plain, typed text doesn’t move people and deliver outcomes as well as you need it to.
Think about it: In terms of connecting and communicating, are you more effective in a typed email or more effective on the phone? If you’re like most people, you’re better in conversation.
Same question, but a new option: Are you more effective on the phone or more effective in person? This isn’t up for debate. You’re better in person. Eye contact. Smiling. Tone and pace. Nonverbal cues. As fellow human beings, we connect and communicate most effectively when face to face. It’s automatic. It’s fundamental to the human experience.
And yet we’ve found ourselves in a time and place where the messenger has been removed from most of their messages. Your gratitude, sincerity, concern, enthusiasm, frustration, and other feelings are often confused or even lost when you try to capture them in typed emails and texts.
So, here’s the question to ask before you click “Send”: Would this be better if I communicated it face to face?”
In so many cases, the answer is going to be yes. To be more persuasive. To manage tone. To make clear your meaning. To be more personal. To build human connection. To make a bigger impact. To achieve a better outcome.
The reason we rely on faceless, digital communication is that it’s efficient. We don’t always have the time or can’t always overcome the distance to get face to face with our prospects, clients, team members, recruits, suppliers, strategic partners, and all the other stakeholders in our success. It’s so much faster and easier to just type it up and shoot it off.
You already have everything you need to capitalize on more of those opportunities to which the answer is “Yes, this would be better in person.” As Daniel Pink wrote in his number one New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller To Sell Is Human, we can “combine the efficiency of electronic communication with the intimacy of seeing another person’s face and hearing her voice.”
The answer is a video message. This video doesn’t require lights, scripts, editing, production, or any of those things that have made video an expensive and slow process over the years. Instead, these are simple, personal videos. Record them with your webcam or smartphone. Make eye contact through the lens and talk to someone as if you’re leaving a voicemail. Include your face, voice, personality, expertise, and all of those other things that don’t come through in traditional electronic communication.
Synchronous video communication through webcams has grown increasingly common over the past several years, with companies like Zoom Video achieving triple-digit growth year after year. This type of communication allows anyone, anywhere in the world, with a laptop or smartphone and an internet connection to get face to face with anyone else. But you both have to be available at the same time. So it overcomes distance, but not time.
An asynchronous video message overcomes both time and distance. You record it and send it when it’s convenient for you, and your recipients open and experience you in person when it’s convenient for them. Though still an exception and not the norm, this style of video is becoming increasingly common. A number of companies and tools have sprung up to make it faster and easier to record and send video messages or video emails.
The next time you or a team member is cold prospecting, checking in on an opportunity, following up after a meeting or appointment, saying “thank-you,” saying “good job” or “congratulations,” answering a complex question, or doing any of the other things we have to do from our inbox day to day, ask yourself a question.
Would this be better if I said it in person?
You’ll likely find simple, personal videos a more effective and satisfying way to communicate, connect, and convert.