Effective meetings are important for any business – to make critical decisions and plan action steps to accomplish targets. Companies providing business transcription services help organizations document the audio and video recordings of meetings, which is important for reviewing the proceedings and taking important decisions. Today, with a far-flung workforce, virtual meetings such as conference calls, web conferencing, and video conferencing have become the popular options. But has technology done away with face-to-face meetings? The fact is that both virtual meetings and face-to-face communication have their advantages and using these modes smartly will help businesses get the most out of them.

Meetings

When to use Virtual Meetings

With a virtual meeting you don’t have to hire a physical venue or spend money on transportation or hotels to accommodate participants. All you need is a good internet connection and professional virtual meeting software. Skype or Zoom, Webex, and GotoMeeting are among the top virtual business meeting platforms today. They allow businesses to conduct productive, enjoyable meetings that bring remote teams together. Virtual meetings are an ideal option in the following circumstances:

  • To save time and money on travel – When great distances separate participants, a virtual meeting cuts travel time. Also, this option saves expenses on extensive business travel and also reduces the carbon footprint.
  • To manage a global team – A geographically dispersed workforce is a common feature of the modern workplace. Virtual meetings overcome communication challenges and allow team members to participate and make presentations wherever they are.
  • To bring in experts from different locations – Virtual meetings allow businesses to bring in experts from different regions for important discussions.
  • To hold real-time polls, live chats and real-time Q&A sessions, etc – Web conferencing is a great option for interactive sessions, polling, and discussions on a wide range of topics.
  • To conduct product and safety demos – for global suppliers, web conferencing is ideal to present products to buyers and show how they work. This modality can also be useful for OH&S updates and training.
  • For hiring purposes – Virtual platforms allow HRs to hold interviews and meetings with prospective candidates in other locations, greatly reducing expenses in the hiring process.

According to the London Business School, over fifty percent of the workforce will be remote in some form or another by 2020. Google Cloud’s director of product management Rany Ng says that virtual meetings can inspire spontaneous creativity, bring the best ideas to life, and increase productivity (www.fastcompany.com). They work well for Google which has a distributed workforce with offices in over 160 cities across nearly 60 countries – with five different time zones. Video meetings allow participants to interpret the facial expressions and social cues, which allows everyone to “read the room” and react accordingly, he notes. She does not support voice-only conference calls as they limit the level of collaboration and team dynamic. “Not being able to read people’s body language makes it more likely for misunderstandings to arise, which can throw an entire meeting off and impact the overall team dynamic”, she says.

The Case for Physical Face-to-Face Meetings

Face to face meetings are held in person with everyone in the same room, which can be a boardroom, restaurant, or just an office. Even as virtual meetings seem to be taking over, meeting face to face does have many advantages:

  • Attendees mingle freely and their body language, gestures and words clearly convey what they want to say. This reduces chances of miscommunication.
  • There are no distractions like phones and computers – in a professional environment, participants will be disciplined and focused on the meeting, without wasting their time.
  • Face-to-face meetings build stronger teams as people get to know and understand each other well.
  • Interpreting body language can give people clues about unspoken issues.

Omega Management Group Corp. reported that at a recent conference, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) stressed the importance of face-to-face meetings to improve customer retention programs. The ICCA discussed customer loyalty and selling, and concluded that companies needed to focus on personal interactions to boost their customer retention rates and increase sales. To improve conversion rates, businesses should encourage staff members to hold regular face-to-face meetings. The report notes that direct communication is crucial to building brand value and maintaining relationships. This is even more significant in the B2B sector where a productive face-to-face meeting allows busy decision-makers to ask questions, resolve problems and better understand a potential service provider.

The bottomline is that both virtual and face-to-face physical meetings have their advantages. The ideal solution for businesses would be to adopt a blended approach. A Harvard Business Review report points out that the best way to satisfy both needs is to “blend sophisticated virtual tools with periodic face-to-face meetings. This will allow businesses to tap the best attributes of both virtual meetings and face-to-face conferencing.

Whether remote or in person, digital transcription service providers can ensure that meetings are accurately documented for future reference.