I have noticed this myself when I was on MCC’s Technology and Pedagogy committee. If I really wanted to get something accomplished, a particular agenda item or task, I became aware that I had to go up to Oceanside and attend in person. If I just wanted to participate, videoconferencing was fine. In fact, people would pay more attention to me. But they seemed not to pay as much attention to what I said.
The study abstract explains that this is because their brains were dealing with the mediation environment. Ben Levisohn of BW says:
The video attendees were twice as likely to base their evaluation of the meetings on the speaker rather than the content. They were also more likely to say the speaker was hard to follow. . . [O]ur brains gather data about people before turning to what they say. In person, we do this quickly. But speakers are harder to “read” on the screen, so we focus more on them.
While it’s fun to have ones own experience supported by current research, it means that videoconferencing is not a good way to be effective at a meeting, meaning a drive up to campus when I need to make an impact.
It may also have implications for our students when we use web video to present content. At the moment I’m only using it to introduce myself. But if I used it to lecture, would they get what I’m saying, or evaluate the lecture based on my personality, and learn very little?