why do face to face meetings matter and what are the benefits?
We live and work in a world full of means and devices to almost totally avoid any kind of in person, face to face contact with anyone.
We can use Slack, Hive, Google, SharePoint, pick up the phone, leave a voicemail, send an email, text, message, whatsapp as well as post, snap, tweet, share and like ….the list goes on.
This can be great – especially if you don’t like interacting with people much! It’s quick, usually short and to the point, you can move on and leave it at that, or pass the ball to the other person to respond/action accordingly. It’s done, off your list – hurrah!
I work for and with technology-focused companies. We are based in multiple office locations in the UK and overseas, plus we have colleagues including myself who are remote or roaming, so we utilise many of the above tools and media for communications.
We also use, as you would expect, videoconferencing, Skype, Webex, Lifesize amongst others to facilitate meetings and interviews with a more ‘face to face’ feel. You can usually see most of the people on the call via webcams and video links, so isn’t that enough? Surely that’s all we need? It saves time, money, travel, aids collaboration and communication.
So why would we still need to consider the good ‘old-fashioned’ face to face, in person, meeting and catch up? What are we missing, if anything, and what value can it add?
Often online messages or text scan be misread or misconstrued as you don’t have the non-verbal signals such as eye contact, body language or verbal nuances. This is often a problem when communicating with a new person for the first time whether team members or clients, it takes time to get to know each other and how to read correctly.
If you’ve taken the time to organise and travel to a meeting, it can work well in bonding, engagement and focus. When dealing with difficult issues that could require a more personal touch, it helps to win over a situation. It also avoids any issues with technology – poor lines or connections, no unplanned interruptions from colleagues/family.
Face to face interactions and being in close proximity to a person naturally sticks in the human mind longer term. Shaking hands, talking, listening, sharing emotions, laughter - all helping to build that all important relationship.
Face to face meetings and presentations are shown in studies to prove more believable, building trust and showing credibility. You’re not hidden behind a screen, phone etc. so it’s more authentic. You can convey your personality and ideas/message more effectively and people are more likely to remember and buy into it
Recently we’ve had a few changes in some of the management team and have a couple of new large recruiting campaigns to focus on and of course deliver. There have been new faces introduced to the mix as well as prior team members, but in many cases, not people I’ve interacted with much before, if at all. As well as setting up some intro calls and briefings, I made sure to book in a road trip and go to the relevant locations and meet people face-to-face to connect. This has helped me to learn and understand more; the office culture, how do they interact themselves in person, how I can appropriately assess and prepare candidates. Also to make sure the managers and teams can put a face to a name, could get to know me, hopefully to instil confidence and trust about my proposals, the way I work and plan to deliver.
At the same time, I am making sure to continue the road-trip to go back and catch up with some of the teams and offices that maybe haven’t had as many recruitment requirements. To ensure that I’m up to date, that they still feel part of the process, the wider group and connected to what’s going on.
I’ve found it really useful. You get so much more from a personal visit and meeting, plus it’s been really enjoyable to get out there, see and feel the changes, building and maintaining my relationship with the businesses. If you work in other offices/remote site/at home a lot of the time, occasionally planning a day or two in your offices, seeing and chatting with your colleagues, just helps to refresh the mind and focus, even if on those days you don’t get quite as much work done!
Whilst not discounting the world of online communications, make sure to keep the human interaction in your life – both work and personal – there are valuable benefits to be had.