Are face to face meetings a thing of the past? We think not.

By Michael Sark

In today’s age of technology fuelled remote workforces and virtual teams, the age old ritual method of meeting (face to face) may be seen to have gone the way of the dinosaurs.

'Go To Meetings' & conference calling is rife. But often, the problem with virtual conferences is that most people “aren’t there”, that is they are not actually present. By this, I mean they are probably doing something else. Be it planning the weekend, reading the news or putting themselves on mute to carry on another conversation, 60% of conference call attendees admit to “multitasking” during these meetings.  Is having over half of your attendees not fully engaged in the meeting really that productive?

Traditional face to face contact has power, this is where the work gets done. There is something about sitting around a table to thrash things out, it drives accountability, outcomes and in turn productivity.

It still makes sense to meet face to face despite the fact that this type of meeting may be perceived as more expensive, more inconvenient and taking longer than other options. The fact face-to-face meetings drive outcomes, provide a basis for accountability and create action comfortably offsets some of the less attractive elements of these meetings.

Everyone who has ever been on a conference call has experienced the uncertainty of exactly who is on the call, when they are going to talk and the frustration of constantly speaking over the top of each other. While this can be a little funny, it doesn’t make for the most productive environment and can lead to low engagement from meeting participants.

5  Reasons You Still Need To Meet Face To Face

Body Language
Studies show that 65% of communication is nonverbal. It is not what you say, but how it is said, both in tone and visually. This aspect of communication is completely lost in a phone call. Face to face communication allows you to more accurately gauge the impression you are leaving and will result in a more measured and meaningful conversation.

Clarity
Face to face meetings are much more conducive to sending a clear message. Some other communication mediums are just not appropriate for clarifying misunderstandings. You generally don’t get much of a response when you raise your hand while on a teleconference.

Drives Participation
When in a room together, participation is easily encouraged.  People cannot easily turn their back on the meeting like they can in a phone call. If someone has not provided much input to the meeting, the chair can much more easily bring people into the conversation if they are sitting in the room.

More Efficient Delivery of Outcomes
Face to face meetings often demand and encourage outcomes. As time is a premium for people these days, there is pressure to get to the point. A sense of achievement needs to be fulfilled for attendees to walk away from a meeting feeling that it was a productive use of their time.

The Creative Flow
Face to face meetings are ideal moments to encourage creativity and “on the fly” thought processes. Using visual aids like a whiteboard allow you to quickly change your tact and begin exploring new ideas with a “sketch pad” mentality. As they say, some of the best ideas and business deals were first scrawled on the back of a cocktail napkin!

Michael Sark is a Workspace Consultant at Wilkin Group whose role is to make organising productive meetings as painless as possible.

Michael can be contacted at msark@wilkingroup.com.au