It's very easy to schedule a conference call or simply communicate online, but the face-to-face meeting is still the best way to get things done in business. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review face-to-face meetings are the most effective for negotiating important contracts, interviewing senior staff for key positions and understanding and listening to important customers. Why is this?
A face-to-face meeting can allow you to read body language
Facial expressions and physical reactions communicate so much more than words. Whether you are interviewing a candidate, negotiating a contract or dealing with a client, a face-to-face meeting will allow you to gain a much deeper insight into the situation and a better understanding of the people involved. Someone's body language can communicate so much more than a resume, a letter, an email or a contract. The ability to “read” someone can be a competitive advantage for a small business.
People are much more engaged during face-to-face meetings
Technology allows us to multi-task, which can be an advantage, but not during meetings when people need to be focused on the content of your small business meeting. Another survey by the Harvard Business Review discovered that whilst on conference calls most people are doing other things, and sometimes these activities have nothing to do with work. Due to the mute function it is easy to multitask without others being aware of it. 43% of respondents confessed to be on social media, 25% said they were playing video games, whilst 21% were doing online shopping and some even admitted to taking another phone call or exercising. Is it any wonder then that to obtain people's full attention , a face-to-face meeting is far more effective?
Face-to-face time is the best way to build relationships
Although virtual meetings have their uses, they just don't offer the same opportunities to network. Due to the distance between participants, virtual meetings don't provide the level of connection that face-to-face meetings do, and furthermore there are no possibilities to forge deeper bonds, like during after-meeting social gatherings. Attendees at a meeting have a greater sense of being part of a community. Networking is an essential part of business and even if online social networking is valuable, face-to-face networking can build more meaningful professional relationships.
Face-to-face meetings are better for preventing and resolving conflictsIn-person meetings are said to be superior for understanding the needs of other parties. Every small business has had to deal with an unhappy client or disgruntled member of staff. When dealing with such situations it is best to meet the dissatisfied party in person. When you are able to observe others’ reactions, you can adapt your own behavior and it is easier to clarify intent. As communication is clearer, discussions with clients or between members of staff are more likely to have a positive outcome. If your small business becomes too reliant on email or other virtual communication methods there is an increased chance of misinformation, misinterpretation and misunderstanding.