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Best Practice for Meetings: Face-to-Face or Digital?

With the wealth of technology that is readily available, it is all too easy for us to lose the face-to-face communication but it’s vital that we keep it alive, specifically when looking at business interactions.
Although it may be more convenient for us to email instead of call, email instead of meet, tweet instead of talk, we are losing sight of the significance of talking to our clients and consumers.
 
Whether it be a Skype screen share, a conference call or a ‘reply-all’ email, the Digital meeting is on the rise and it may be to the detriment of your organisation;
 
Digital Meetings 
 
Pros 

  • Convenience
  • Time & cost effective
  • Send data, files etc.

Cons

  • Non-personable
  • No body language indicators
  • Boring
  • Distractions
  • Typical ‘sales call’ connotations


Undoubtedly, there are some positive elements to Digital meetings - it may be more convenient for both parties to simply stay in touch over the phone - however, we must place a certain stress on making the time to meet with our counterparts face-to-face.

Preparation is key for all meetings and PowerPoint presentations (more often than not) make an appearance but any amount of prep unfortunately does not cover every meeting scenario; the client asks a question you don’t have the answer to. They request a document that you don’t have on your memory stick or laptop. You think of a useful Youtube video that can explain what you’re discussing – when interacting through a device, you have the time and resources to locate the above and zip them across.
We turn to the cons of Digital meetings, or rather, the pros of a face-to-face.

Interpersonal. Probably one of the most important reasons why, as a brand, you should endeavour to maintain a strong face-to-face communication. Once lost or ignored, it is hard to reacquire the connection and trust that was originally built with an associate.

Body Language. A strong, useful gauge of how well a meeting is going; it would be nigh impossible to judge an individual’s reaction or response (unless they had a particularly emotive voice) over the phone. Take advantage of someone’s body language indicators as most people unknowingly give away non-verbal clues through the way they sit, where they look, or as simply as through their facial expressions.

Boredom. We’re not for a minute suggesting that you haven’t attended your fair share of less than exhilarating meetings but it is a lot easier to engage the recipient when you’re in their space. Whether you decide to keep their attention with a lively presentation or show your enthusiasm through animated actions, it is unquestionably easier to make, build and maintain that connection when face-to-face.
Distractions. Again, these can (and do) occur in non-digital meetings but it could be more problematic to hold someone’s attention over the phone.

Typical ‘sales call’ vibes. Any call, or email for that matter, from a supplier to a client can face difficulties - even if the receiver is expecting your call or the information is relevant. When people receive communication from someone that isn’t significant to their daily timeline, it tends to be ignored or put to one side. A scheduled, one-to-one meeting exudes authority and importance. 
 
Whether you decide to cater to them and visit their office, or you can bring them into your domain, it is imperative to cultivate a sturdy rapport with clients and anyone you’re dealing with in terms of business encounters.