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The benefits of in-person meetings


The benefits of in-person meetings

 

                                Written by Sheila Flavell, CEO of FDM Group

In today’s digital age, virtual meetings have become the norm for many businesses. While they offer convenience and flexibility, they may not always be the most effective way to work, particularly when it comes to collaborative projects. In-person meetings provide numerous benefits that can enhance communication, ideation, productivity, and relationship building. 

So, what are the other advantages of face-to-face interactions in a business setting and why are they still valuable in an increasingly virtual world?

Clear Communication

One of the primary advantages of in-person meetings is the facilitation of clear communication. While virtual communication channels provide a means to connect people across distances, they often lack the richness of non-verbal cues present in face-to-face interactions. Body language, facial expressions, and eye contact play a crucial role in conveying information and fostering understanding. According to a recent study, 76 per cent of employees prefer face-to-face meetings as it contributes to building stronger and more meaningful business relationships. 

These cues provide valuable context and help participants gauge reactions and emotions, allowing for immediate clarification and feedback. By eliminating the risk of misinterpretation that virtual communication often carries, in-person meetings promote effective information exchange and reduce potential misunderstandings.

Enhancing Ideation

In-person ideation sessions can greatly benefit from the dynamics of face-to-face interaction. Collaborative brainstorming often requires active participation, quick exchanges of ideas, and spontaneous discussions. According research from Lucidspark, 75 per cent of the surveyed workers said collaboration and creativity suffered the most during the pandemic when everyone was forced to work fully remotely. Being physically present in a meeting room overall encourages engagement and enables participants to build upon each other’s thoughts more fluidly. 

The energy and synergy generated in a room filled with individuals passionate about generating ideas can be contagious. Visual aids like whiteboards, sticky notes, and flip charts offer a tangible medium for capturing ideas, making connections, and visualising concepts. These tools enhance the ideation process and stimulate creativity and innovation within a team.

Avoiding Technical Issues

Virtual meetings, while convenient, are susceptible to technical difficulties that can disrupt the flow of communication. Poor internet connection, audio or video glitches, and software compatibility issues can hinder effective collaboration and cause frustration among participants. 

In contrast, in-person meetings lessen such technological barriers, ensuring that all can consistently see and hear each other without interruptions. This seamless communication allows for a smoother exchange of information and ideas, ultimately saving valuable time and increasing productivity. 

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Minimising Distractions and Increasing Concentration

Virtual meetings can present potential for distractions as other messages appear on screen. Participants may be tempted to multitask, check emails or engage in other non-meeting-related activities. In-person meetings, on the other hand, create a professional environment that requires a participant’s undivided attention. The physical presence of colleagues and clients promotes accountability and minimises distractions, leading to increased concentration and improved productivity. 

When everyone is fully engaged and present, meetings become more efficient and effective. The natural social cues present in face-to-face interactions, such as direct eye contact and engaged body language, signal to participants the importance of the discussion at hand and foster an atmosphere of attentiveness.

Building Stronger Relationships

While virtual interactions have their advantages, they often lack the personal touch necessary for building strong professional relationships. In-person meetings allow individuals to connect on a deeper level, fostering trust and rapport among colleagues and clients. Face-to-face interactions provide an opportunity to establish a genuine human connection, where participants can engage in small talk, share personal narratives and build a sense of trust. 

According to HubSpot, 95 per cent of professionals stated that face-to-face meetings are essential for developing and maintaining long-term business relationships. These personal connections have a significant impact on collaboration, teamwork, and the overall success of a business relationship. In-person meetings thus provide a platform for networking, team building, and the cultivation of a positive company culture.

Improved Participation

In face-to-face meetings, participants are encouraged to get involved in conversations and they cannot hide behind a screen, whereas in virtual meetings, participants are able to remain on mute or turn off their cameras The more contributions and discussions on a topic, the better the outcome will be.

Handling Sensitive Issues

Discussing sensitive issues in-person allows participants to actively listen and respond with empathy, mitigating chances of misinterpretations that may occur virtually due to the lack of non-verbal cues.

Being physically present also shows an individual how much one cares for them as time and effort is spent willingly trying to sort through the issue at hand.

Closing Thoughts

While virtual meetings have undoubtedly revolutionised the way businesses operate, in-person meetings still hold tremendous value. Clear communication, enhanced ideation, the avoidance of technical issues, increased concentration, and the ability to build stronger relationships are just a few of the benefits that in-person meetings offer. As businesses adapt to hybrid work models, a blend of virtual and face-to-face interactions may prove to be the most effective approach.

By recognising the advantages of in-person meetings and leveraging the strengths of both virtual and physical collaboration, businesses can optimise their teamwork, foster innovation, and drive sustainable growth in an ever-evolving landscape. In-person meetings remain an indispensable tool for promoting effective communication, collaboration, and the human connections necessary for businesses to thrive.

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