As digital technology has become more accessible, business people have become more inclined to conduct meetings online rather than in person (please reference infographic for further statistics). This is an understandable trend, not to mention one that’s inherently beneficial in a number of regards. Though, it’s still important to engage in face-to-face meetings—if for no other reason than to build stronger and more meaningful business relationships.
Benefits of online meetings and face-to-face meetings
1) Face-to-face meetings provide a greater opportunity to make an impression.
Impressions, and not only first impressions, are incredibly important in business. This is why it’s important to conduct face-to-face meetings before video conferencing. “It’s a good way to maintain a relationship, but it’s not a good way to start a relationship,” says Addison Schonland, Chief Executive of Innovation at The Analysis Group. This is predominantly because of the lack of body language and the difficulty involved in reading facial expressions.
2) Online meetings are more affordable because there is no travelling.
This is a big benefit to online meetings and perhaps the most prominent reason why many business people are conducting meetings online rather than in person. Travelling not only involves money, but also time, which in business is often the same thing because time equals money.
3) Meeting in person out of the office means everyone is off the record.
This not only refers to recording the meeting, but also the opportunity to meet and discuss what’s really on one’s mind without worrying about being overheard in a crowded office.
Rene Shimada Siegel, Founder and President of High Tech Connect, believes meeting face-to-face outside the office is advantageous and helps business people get the real story. “Over sushi or a latte or a walk around the block, my clients can let me know more—with more colour—than they can over the telephone or in an email,” Siegel says.
4) Holding meetings online helps to maintain relationships despite distances.
Whilst it’s advantageous to meet in person the first time when you meet with an important business peer or client, holding online meetings is an excellent way to maintain important relationships despite the geographical distances separating people. Staying connected to business peers and clients is essential to making your business run smoothly. Solutions like RingCentral’s HD Video Meetings allow users to hold multi-point HD video conferences around the world, anytime and anywhere.
Pitfalls to Avoid When Arranging an Online or Face-to-Face Meeting
In order to understand how to effectively conduct a meeting online or in person, it’s often handy to understand how not to conduct one. Here are a few common meeting mistakes to be aware of and avoid the next time you’re responsible for arranging a meeting.
1) Choosing the wrong form of meeting for the occasion.
You must understand that there are occasions when it’s better to conduct an online meeting and times when it’s better to meet in person. As mentioned above, when meeting for the first time it’s better to meet face-to-face. However, there are many occasions that meeting in person isn’t necessary and everyone involved would probably find video conferencing more suitable. For example, when all that is required is a quick informal chat, a video conference is the best choice.
2) Failing to provide adequate notice of the meeting to all attendees.
You may have booked a conference room in a business centre, arranged catering and created the ultimate meeting agenda, but if you haven’t provided attendees with adequate notice your meeting is off to a terrible start.
This is also the case with online meetings because you’ll have wasted your time, (though at least you won’t have booked a meeting room!).
3) Forgetting to designate a meeting leader.
Whether you’re meeting in a conference room, your offices, or online, failing to have a leader—or someone who’ll lead the meeting—is a big mistake. For meetings to be constructive they need to be lead. This ensures that the meeting will stay on course. Traditionally, the person who arranges the meeting leads it, regardless of where it takes place.
4) Failing to create a meeting agenda and make everyone aware of it.
Creating a meeting agenda and notifying the attendees of it is incredibly important, especially for formal face-to-face meetings involving three or more people.
It’s generally seen as good etiquette (although not so much a necessity when holding an informal video conference) to let the others know the purpose of the meeting. This could merely entail a quick email with a few bullet points outlining what you plan to discuss.
These important considerations and many more such as: keeping the mood and tempo of the meeting constructive, following up after the meeting to ensure objectives are met, etc. apply to online meetings as well as those held in person. Moreover, it’s important for you, as a business professional, to become proficient at conducting both video conferences and face-to-face meetings in order to show leadership and be a vital asset to your company. For more tips on how to run a productive business meeting checkout these 7 steps to success.