Sometimes, Only Face-to-Face Meetings Will Do

Business Meeting
“You’re on mute.”
“Can you hear me?”
“Sorry, you’re breaking up a little.”
“Let me send you my sketch. I’ll just take a picture… email it…”
“Mommy? Mommy?”
“Not now, honey… Mommy’s on a call.”
“No, that’s not the right version. I sent you another email at 9:43 this morning.”
“My VPN won’t connect.”

Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, many professionals have found themselves working from home. For some, it was great. No commute, working in sweatpants, coffee and snacks always close by. For many, it was a nightmare. Clearing off the kitchen table to make a new workspace. Finding a headset because their roommate is a loud talker. Juggling work and parenting responsibilities, while the kids were trying to do “remote learning.” And for anyone who worked in a collaborative environment – group collaboration came almost to a standstill. Sometimes, only a face-to-face (F2F) event will do – meetings where people meet in the same physical location.

Is a face-to-face(F2F) meeting better than virtual?

Meetings take people to a more focused environment with fewer distractions – sometimes we’ll even be asked to put away our phones and laptops! But if attendees are informed, entertained and fed, event hosts can keep them engaged for days. (At the minimum, we share an unspoken social contract to at least look like we’re paying attention at a F2F event!) At a virtual meeting, you can turn off your camera or simply nod occasionally while you work in another open tab. (We’ve seen our kids do it during home-schooling, right?) The opportunities for networking, brainstorming, and relationship building are greater at F2F meetings than online. And if you’re training employees or vendors, in-person meetings provide a richer, more targeted, and more focused learning experience than any virtual meeting possibly can.

Brainstorming is better IRL (in real life)

There’s nothing like sitting across a table from someone and sketching, spit-balling, dreaming up new approaches to old problems or solving new problems creatively. (Sure, Zoom has that “whiteboard” feature, but those scribbles are practically impossible to do with a mouse!) The energy in the room is palpable, and co-workers feed off each other, contributing, interrupting, scribbling. For fun – or for particularly tough challenges – professional facilitators are often brought in to share exciting new brainstorming techniques to help solve business problems. Colored markers. Colored Post-it notes. Rotating around the room, building off ideas. You can’t do that over Microsoft Teams, can you?

Sometimes, RFPs and sales pitches are all about “the show”

Sure, you could conduct your make-it-or-break-it pitch over a conference call or video call. If your potential investors are international, that may be the only way. But if it were possible to do it face-to-face (and by possible, we mean COVID-safe and affordable) wouldn’t you want to? When you’re in the room, you know whether you should speed things up by reading body language – people looking at their watches, or on their phones. You may catch an eye roll or a sigh, and realize you need to redirect. Your colleague may notice someone who wants to ask a question and give the floor to them. There are so many nuances to an RPF or RFQ… why trust it to technology?

When time is of the essence

If you have a business problem – or worse, a time-sensitive crisis – you may need a war room where you pull all hands-on deck and work to solve the problem together. When things need to move at lightning speed, multiple phone calls and email lags just won’t cut it.

So, which is better – face-to-face or virtual?

Now that the cases of COVID seem to be on the decline again, hopefully, the benefits of F2F meetings will outweigh the risks. F2F meetings bring people together, provide significant points of business interaction, and can even help boost the economy through travel, dining, and meeting room rental at formal venues or shared workspaces. If you’re ready to hold a brainstorming, training, or collaborative work session – Sobon & Associates offers space starting at as little as $20/hour. Because sometimes, only a face-to-face meeting will do.