Chris Kranky

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I’m lying to you and why video is a challenge

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

liesMy friend runs a mid-size hedge fund, I noticed she liked to listen to audio play backs of investor calls while doing housework or at the gym. I asked what the purpose was since she wasn’t taking notes. “Oh, I’m waiting for them to lie.” When do they lie? “Oh, all the time“, she said. It was at this moment she imparted on me the 3 most important things I must always remember when talking to CEOs. In order of priority, (1) they lie, (2) they lie and (3) the most important one — you guessed it — they lie.

A mere gulp, cough, pause, change in speech tempo or similar utterance could trigger her team to deep dive investigate the statement for weakness. When playing the stock market, even the slightest edge is just that, they’re always looking for some tidbit that will improve performance.

Fast forward, Polycom (Nasdaq: PLCM), a “leader” in video conferencing systems decided to “eat their own dogfood” and hold their quarterly investor call via video. Huge mistake. Robert Hagerty (then CEO) was well prepared for the typical canned preamble. Looking carefully into the camera, trying to be like Walter Cronkite, he spoke in measured tones. However, when the Q&A began- it all fell apart. Even I could tell when poor Robert was “extending the truth” with questions about future expectations, customer demands and all things financial. By the end, he was looking  uncomfortable. Polycom stock chart looks like a mountain range and has mostly been in the valley of death since.

Polycom still broadcasts the canned preamble investor piece via video, but switches to audio only for the investor Q&A. Smart move. I’m sure it’s for “technical” reasons. 🙂

The notion of WebRTC is that we will all be doing more video. But first we either have to stop lying or perhaps we’ll get better at lying. We all lie. We do it all day long. I’m busy, can’t meet up, working on that now, almost done, very interested, not interested. Whatever we say, most of us rarely tell the entire truth. Our communications are all filtered works of art.

This brief 18 minute TED video by Pamela Meyer highlights the many lies we seem to tell.

Former FBI agent, Joe Navarro has written a great book on how to spot when someone is lying (or extending the truth) titled “What every body is saying“.

While WebRTC turns video conferencing into child’s play. The question is are you ready for it. Tell me the truth.