September 17, 2021

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous video

Jared McKinney
Head of Growth

So what’s the difference between synchronous and asynchronous?

Synchronous (or sync) refers to any communication that has to happen at a certain time and place. That can mean a Zoom meeting, a telephone call, or a face-to-face conversation. 

A few things to know about synchronous communication:
—It is time and place bound.
—You’re presenting to a live audience.
—You have to be there the whole time.

Makes sense. If you meet your friend at the supermarket and she asks, “How are you today?” you can’t keep shopping and ignore her. Synchronous conversation is instantaneous, and requires immediate participation.

(or async) communication doesn’t have that drawback. Instead, you can reply whenever you get the chance to prepare a response, finish a task, and avoid interruptions.

—Async is not immediate.

—Async messages can be saved for later.

—Async allows you to reply when you’re ready.

Remember your friend in the supermarket? Now imagine she texted you. Because it’s not “live” conversation, you’re completely free to reply later. Async communication lets you keep shopping and still keep in touch with friends and coworkers.

Why async is better

Interruptions are costly.

They’re costly to businesses. They’re costly to productivity. They’re even costly to our stress.

A joint study by the University of California and Humboldt University indicated that the constant starting/stopping of work-a-day life can take its toll on our mental well-being. We’re still completing our daily tasks, but not in a way that treats us well.

And what’s the biggest interruption to productivity? Poorly-organized meetings.

They sap our strength and prevent us from focusing on our jobs. The average employee spends twice as much time in meetings as they did before the pandemic. We can place much of this blame on the difficulties associated with synchronous communication.

Of course we can’t cancel meetings entirely—not when so much persuasion and idea sharing happens in meetings. But it’s in our best interest to improve how we communicate. There’s a middle ground between “too many meetings” and “not enough.” We like to call that middle ground “asynchronous communication.”

Instead of wasting time talking about what to talk about, just say it! Asynchronous messaging lets you ask questions, gather ideas, and move forward on projects at whatever time is convenient for each team member. If you’re all busy and can’t meet, keep in touch by sharing action items and updates asynchronously.

An asynchronous meeting can also eliminate one of the biggest productivity killers lurking out there: poor connection. You can’t always choose when a Zoom meeting happens, no more than you can fix your sketchy WiFi in time for it. The tragic “ripping your hair out because you asked your coworker to repeat the same ‘yes/no’ question eight times” routine is as frustrating as it is universal.

But an asynchronous meeting isn’t tied to a single time or place. Its flexibility lets you respond whenever conditions are convenient. You can wait until you have a good connection, which you can’t always do with sync videos. Take the stress out of video chat by waiting until your device is ready to play nice. Not only does it save your connection, it also saves your sanity!

The problem with text-based messaging

“But if async is better, why can’t we keep using email and Slack? Aren’t they asynchronous?”

Yes, but there are two huge problems.

The first is that we have too much to read. Think about how many text-based messages we reply to everyday. As of 2019, the average American worker received 126 emails per day (of which only 77 were legitimate), and there’s no way that decreased during quarantine. 

Additionally, over one-fourth of our work week is sunk in answering emails! Our recent quarantine seemed determined to make book nerds out of all of us, and not for reading fun stuff like Harry Potter

Problem number 2: we have too little human connection. On the spectrum of communication, very little has to do with the actual content. There’s a miniscule space where words thrive—everything else requires tone of voice, body language, expressions, and smiling! Does anyone else miss smiling?

Video chat replaces miscommunication with understanding. Your facial expressions and body language mean much more than bare-bones texts. Some messages can’t be condensed to single-spaced lines in a tiny box!

Besides, video is just plain faster. People process visuals up to 60,000 times faster than text! That’s a lot of time saved scrolling through Slack messages!

Instead of describing what you mean, just show it! Text messages might work for grocery lists, but a picture of your groceries speaks a thousand memorable words.

Volley: The Async Game Changer

Volley is the world’s first asynchronous video chat app. It captures all the information and richness of video meetings, and blends it with the convenience of emails and Slack. You can reply whenever you want with a full-fledged, crystal clear video.

Instead of emailing a complex question, just say it with Volley’s video capture. The app keeps everyone together by letting each team member gather their thoughts, press “Record,” and have a chance to speak.

Also, Volley sends more than videos. Users can send graphics, voice, screen recordings, and even text through the app. But 80% of volleys are still video, largely because of how easy it is to record them!

After creating an account on the free app, Volley lets you start sending right away. The main screen shows what your camera sees, and includes a simple layout to choose what you’d like to send. For video messages, hit the big “Record” button in the middle, and your message will start!

After hitting “Record,” you say your piece and hit “Record.” Volley will send that message immediately, and will even send a notification if you try quitting out before the message is loaded.

It will even inform you if your microphone’s off! After a few seconds of video, Volley will let you know if it isn’t picking up audio. That way, you can readjust your settings and start the video again. 

The Future of Async

With so much clarity, connection, and convenience to offer the workspace, it’s no surprise that Volley is rising in the ranks as the world’s greatest async video chat app.

People are suffering from fatigue everywhere: Zoom fatigue, email fatigue, and especially Slack fatigue. The world is full of hard-working people tied down by ineffective communication methods. No one wants to spend hours every day replying to emails, but that’s the way it is.

It’s time for a change.

It’s time to say “No” to wasted time and stressful meetings.

It’s time to take control of that busy schedule

It’s time to unlock the best of both worlds: The human connection of video chat, and the convenience of written chat.

If you’re sick of things not getting done, then it’s time for Volley.

How much productivity could you save if you used Volley? You can keep dreaming, or you can download our free app today and say “Hello” to a new workflow!

Jared McKinney

More growth than hack.

About the Author

As a marketer, I like doing old things in new ways—copywriting, SEO, email—to achieve outsized results on modest budgets. I've scaled marketing programs at 8,9 and 10-figure tech companies and managed teams from inception to IPO.

Connect with Me

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