Are Face To Face Meetings Still Relevant?

Written by on August 27, 2012 in Career - No comments | Print this page

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by Per Olof Forsberg

Since the advent of Google+ hangouts, Skype and Facebook video chat; an increasing number of businesses are taking their meetings and conferences onto the internet.  Sitting in your own office reduces not only the travel expenses of meetings, but also the drain on your time.  In a world where time is money, face to face meetings are quickly being relegated as traditionalist.  So do they still have a place in business?

Online Conferencing

Firstly, let’s examine the reasons why online conferences are leading in the fray.  They first began to address the need of an increasingly international business world; companies with branches and outlets across the globe needed a more personal way of addressing each other than via e-mail or phone.  Even regional specific businesses wanted a way to speak to their overseas clients and the closest they could get without splashing out on airfares and hotels, was to video conference.  This soon became common practice for even local organisations, companies in London would Skype with each other when their offices were less than five miles apart.  It became an aspect of convenience, there’s no denying the advantages of situation but the question is whether something has been lost in the transition?

Attention Levels

Those in favour of online meetings will tell you that attention levels are heightened in this situation, as limits in technology force all parties involved to concentrate harder to hear their counterparts and speak clearer themselves.  They also have to identify who is talking and have to focus more on conversation pacing because of delays in the relay.  But those in the camp of personal meetings will say that online ‘conferencers’ will multi-task and have their mind distracted by other work related activities, being in the environment and usually at the same desk that they associate with working.

Electronic World

Change is often a catalyst to progress in the workplace, new experiences in new locations often have a higher influence than being lectured by your boss or reading a training manual.  Humans are social creatures, and the process of travelling to meet a client or even just walking to the next floor of your building to the boardroom will be a change of perspective.  Multi-million deals can be brokered without the two parties ever meeting in person, but the best businessmen and women are those who negotiate face to face.  Tangible relationships are worth a thousand words, you can’t e-mail smiles and handshakes.

Trust

It’s a commonly accepted idea that first impressions form the majority of our disposal towards somebody, and that physical appearance is important.  How much can you say that you trust the person who you’ve only ever seen as a pixelated screen on your laptop?  Trust is built in body language and personal experience.  Also, negotiations can often be swung with charisma and how personable the speaker is.  Video conferencing leaves a lot to be desired in this respect.

The conduction of meetings online shouldn’t be stopped, by any means.  There are situations in which it’s the only viable option, but it shouldn’t be the first.  By all means network your clients in China via Skype, but making the effort to visit customers in your locality will surely reward you with repeat business.

This is a guest post.  This business article was written on behalf of corporate venue supplier De Vere Venues – experts in providing business venue solutions including conference venues in London.

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