Martin Geddes

Why & When Do We Choose Voice?

To understand voice’s future role in a multi-media enterprise environment, we need to return to fundamentals. There are three basic forms of human communication: information, narrative and presence.

  • Information is about individual data points and their relationships.
  • Narrative is richer than mere information: its defining characteristic is that it has tempo. Narrative and story-telling is how decisions are formed.
  • Presence is about the sensuous and emotive richness of the other being conveyed to us remotely.

All conversations are composed of all three elements, in varying quantities. Different media have varying affinities to each of these elemental forms of communication:

  • Webinars focus on passing information.
  • Conference calls typically are about narrative, both sharing stories of the past and present, and constructing new ones together about the future.
  • Meetings specialise in creating presence: they are as much about who is excluded as included. The purpose of meeting is to ‘see the whites of your eyes’ and read body language.

We choose communications tools based on both the cost of encoding our respective information, narrative, and presence messages, and the value we get out of receiving them. These costs and benefits are a mix of monetary, social and cognitive. As you can see, the decision over choosing a communications medium is a complex one.

Why & When do you choose to use voice for communicating? Share a comment below.