Although Covid-19 disrupted our way of life and our work style, face to face meetings cannot simply disappear. Entrepreneurs and business owners now have to follow a new protocol against the background of the global pandemic. Even if you run a business 100% remotely, you should never underestimate the power of human interaction.
Before you start diving into this topic, you should also keep in mind that a video conference is actually a face to face meeting. The only difference is that during a virtual meeting you’ll have to look directly into the camera instead of gazing into the eyes of the person you are engaged in a conversation with.
Nevertheless, this blog post is about traditional face to face meetings (or in-person meetings), the only ones that existed before the great invention of webcams and Zoom, when there was no other choice but to travel to meet someone. There is much debate nowadays over whether this way of ‘old school’ meeting is still efficient and necessary.
Table of content:
- Face to face meetings post Covid-19: are they still important?
- How to know when a face to face meeting can be more powerful than a virtual meeting
- Myths and misconceptions about the advantages of traditional meetings over video conferences
- How can a virtual office add value to your meetings (and your business too)?
Undoubtedly, you are expecting a straightforward answer to this question, such as ”yes” or ”no”. So don’t be surprised if you find out that face to face meetings are still important, but not as much as they were in the past.
Why is that so? Sometimes, in-person meetings can bring you more benefits than video conferences and vice versa. This guide applies to the business environment even in a post-pandemic era, where virtual offices are the new norm due to Covid-19 and physical distancing became the rule of the day.
Therefore, the secret of running a successful business nowadays is not about making a clear choice between traditional face to face meetings (in this case you might need a permanent physical office) and virtual meetings (that can allow you to have a 100% home-based business), but learning how to balance these two different work styles.
But first, let’s see the reasons why face to face meetings are still important and the value they can bring to your business:
- In-person meetings build more trust
Seeing is believing. When something (such as product samples) or someone is tangible, right in front of us, we tend to build more trust. Surprisingly, Steve Jobs, one of the most tech-savvy men on earth, constantly highlighted the importance of face to face meetings as they contribute to stronger and lasting business relationships.
- Details are critical
As Cary Grant said (I strongly hope that you are not asking yourself ”who is he?”, if not, feel free to Google him, it’s okay, I will wait), “it takes 500 small details to add up to one favourable impression”. The way someone is dressed, the small gestures that cannot be observed on the camera and the manner he or she is behaving in the real-life and not just behind a screen can say more than 1000 words. Details can definitely help you get the whole picture of a situation or concept.
- You can expand your opportunities
During a face to face meeting, small talk and conversation in general tend to go in different directions. This is the main reason why you can generate new ideas easier and also expand opportunities as far as your business is concerned.
- It is easier to convince people
Face to face meetings can minimise misunderstandings. If you have to sway people to your point of view, the easiest way to do that is to have an in-person meeting. It can surely increase your chances to persuade others since they can provide a more targeted and more focused learning experience (this is a good strategy to help you lock in that new sale).
As mentioned above, in the current global context, where technology was forced upon us due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in-person meetings are not always necessary. Here is a short guide on how to decide whether you should arrange a face to face meeting or set up a video conference.
Reasons why you should choose a face to face meeting
- Persuading others (you already got that while reading the paragraphs above)
- Closing a big deal
- Having a hard conversation
- Meeting a new client
Reasons why you should choose a video conference
- Saving time (when you need to organise shorter and more structured meetings, without the hassle and expense of commuting)
- Having a conversation with a client that you already built a relationship with
- Hiring employees (of course, if you have to hire a person located 10,000 kilometers away, you’ll have no other choice than recruiting and hiring remotely. However, some entrepreneurs, even if the distance is not huge, actually prefer to hire exclusively by video conference).
In a few words, no matter if you run a start-up that operates 100% remotely or you simply decided to make the transition of your business to a virtual office, you will still need to arrange face to face meetings every once in a while (we really hope you’ll do that as often as possible because it would mean that you started getting more clients!).
This section could also be called “reasons why you shouldn’t choose face to face meetings”.
Succinctly, if you arranged an in-person meeting for some good reasons like the ones mentioned above, you made an excellent choice. But don’t bother wasting your time or spending your money to commute, when you are able to get the same advantages by using virtual communication.
Here are the most common myths regarding the advantages that face to face meetings have over virtual meetings:
- Face to face meetings are more focused
Traditional meetings involve a lot more casual conversation in comparison with virtual meetings. This is the reason why a virtual conversation can sometimes be even more structured and purpose-driven than one where people are sharing the same physical space.
Just think about large face to face meetings. If you know them well enough, I bet that at least once you just stared at the walls or scrolled through your newsfeed, didn’t you? (It’s ok, I am not going to tell anyone about it, as I did it in the meeting prior to writing this). During a video conference, that is not possible. As you already read at the beginning of this article, during a video conference the only choice is to look permanently into the camera – it is best to hold a tight agenda so that attendees do not check emails or do other work.
- Nonverbal communication can play a significant role only during face to face meetings
We agree nonverbal communication is vital since we often express ourselves through pointing, waiving, facial expressions, and posture. But this doesn’t mean that in front of a webcam you should forget about your body language and just sit up straight, in an unnatural position.
Therefore, nonverbal communication is meaningful also during a video conference.
- The voice is the most powerful tool you have and during a virtual meeting you cannot use it well enough to support your verbal messages
Just as the gestures, the inflections of the voice play a vital role when interacting with someone.
But if the tone of your voice is affected, it doesn’t mean that your virtual face to face meeting cannot be effective enough. Perhaps you should just find a way to boost your WiFi signal.
Now that you have a better understanding of the importance of face to face meetings, it would be appropriate for me to share to you about how a virtual office can add value to your meetings and also enhance your business growth.
Just think about the definition of this concept. A virtual office gives businesses, like yours, a physical address and office-related services, but without the costs involved by leasing or buying a building, as well as maintaining it with janitorial and IT services.
Now remember one of the main ideas highlighted at the beginning of this article: sometimes in-person meetings can bring you more benefits than video conferences and vice versa. This means that a virtual office can add value to your meetings by providing you professional boardrooms and meeting rooms whenever you require them and you consider them necessary (whilst also keeping your businesses operating costs low).
And last but not least, even if you understand the importance of a face to face meeting, for sure you would prefer not to receive your clients in your home office. Yeah, you can give your home the most professional appearance. Nevertheless, it would be wiser to keep your business and family details separate.
To sum up, traditional conversations are still important because they build trust, allow you to pay attention to details, to expand your opportunities, and to persuade people easier. Nonetheless, it is not necessary to always arrange face to face meetings as sometimes you can successfully replace them with video conferences.
Here is where your business skills come into play – You should learn when in-person meetings are mandatory and when they aren’t. Once you figure out what works best for your business, you will know exactly how to use your virtual office in order to boost your activity (and if you didn’t rent one already, I am more than happy to give you a virtual tour of our offices at B2B HQ).