Business is conducted at light speed these days. Technology has enabled a wide range of communication possibilities like instant messaging, text, and video conferencing. Since most everybody has a mobile phone, there are few barriers to connecting, so people in business opt for the fastest way to connect when they need answers. However, if you have been on either end of a cyber-miscommunication, you know how easy it is to misread or misrepresent what’s being said. If you can’t see a person’s face, you can’t read their body language. You just don’t know how they are really responding. An emoticon can only say so much, after all. This is why face-to-face meetings in the age of technology is becoming even more important than it ever was.
Face-to-face are more effective.
Thanks to communication technology like Teams, Zoom, Slack and Email, in person meetings are a lot less common than they used to be. However, when it comes to requests, in person is significantly more effective. In a research study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Face-to-face requests are 34 times more successful than a email. People tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via text-based communication, and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication.
In person meetings build trust
These days, we are used to dealing with online support, AI robots on the help desk, and exchanging emails back and forth – but if you’ve never met the person face-to-face, do they even exist? An email, especially an unsolicited one, is viewed as inherently suspicious, while a request made in person is considered more sincere. The inbox—thanks to spam emails and dubious attachments—is something we’ve been conditioned to mistrust.
To be fair, there is often another person on the other end, but it’s very difficult to build a sense of trust or shared mission without that personal connection. According to a study by Forbes Insight, 85% of people say they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships during in-person meetings and conferences.
For that reason, in-person meetings are essential to establishing a baseline level of trust and understanding between two or more participants, especially early on in a business relationship.
Virtual meetings create barriers
Even if you’re using Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business to conduct your weekly scrum, the technology creates a barrier you may not be aware of. Especially for meetings with multiple attendees or when conducting a company-wide meeting, individuals might find it easy to disengage, negating the very purpose of the meeting itself. Even for small groups, you may lose people if they aren’t an active part of the discussion or if they don’t feel anybody is paying attention to them. Meeting in person removes these barriers so that all stakeholders can engage in real-time.
Technology doesn’t empathize
Emotional connection is important. It’s a big reason why we connect with ideas, people, products, advertising, and media in general. But empathy is a two-way street. By meeting in person, you will be able to foster trust and empathy with the other person, which are by all accounts essential components of a successful business venture.
In conclusion, today’s technology provides us with many ways to connect, but in person meetings provide value above and beyond expedience. Use your tech to connect the dots on a day-to-day basis but save your more important discussions for when you can meet up in person.