Video conferencing has come a long way in the past decade. As I mentioned in a recent blog post about video conferencing best practices, video conferencing can be a fantastic way to communicate with clients or partners outside of your offices.
So the question inevitably arises: Can video conferencing actually replace in-person meetings? The short answer is, yes and no. Let me explain in a little more detail.
YES: In some cases video conferencing is an ideal meeting solution.
There are times when meeting in person just isn’t necessary. In fact, it’s more of a burden and hassle than anything else. For those situations, video conferencing is something of a godsend. It gives you a much more quick, easy and productive way to have a meeting.
Situations where video conferencing is ideal include:
- Employee meetings when a number of individuals are off-site
- Regular meetings with partners or consultants
- Meetings with existing out-of-town clients for updates
- Meetings with lower-tier or long-shot potential clients
- Immediate or emergency meetings with top-level clients or partners
In these cases, video conferencing might be your best bet when all logistics and expenditures are taken into account.
Key Benefits of Video Conferencing
From flights and hotels to meals and taxis, business travel costs can really add up. By strategically moving certain meetings to video conferencing, your business can save a lot of money.
Video conferencing enables you to put together a meeting with individuals from opposite ends of the globe in minutes. When you need a face-to-face meeting fast, video conferencing is a great tool to have.
With video conferencing, you can convert collaboration that would normally be done via phone or email to face-to-face meetings. That can increase productivity, improve relationships and prevent miscommunication.
NO: In-person remains the best means of business communication.
In-person meetings are—and will always be—the single best choice for business communication. While technology has done a great job recreating the in-person experience, it’s still not quite the same. People act and communicate differently when looking into each other’s eyes. It’s a different dynamic.
You should make in-person meetings a priority for:
- Clients, partners or collaborators located in your city
- Meetings with an upset or unhappy client
- Initial interactions with high-level potential new clients
- All meetings with top-level or four-star clients
- Sensitive or decision-making employee or partner meetings
While all meetings are important, meetings flagged as “imperative” should almost always happen in person.
Key Benefits of In-Person Meetings
There are small and subtle nuances to in-person meetings you just can’t get through phone or video meetings—like the ability to effectively “read a room” or having a friendly aside with an individual after a meeting.
When you’re discussing sensitive issues or topics of great importance, in-person meetings are the best choice. There is a much greater sense of privacy and intimacy to in-person meetings—attributes definitely lacking in phone or video conversations.
If you’re on the verge of losing a client or if you’re closing a deal with a major new client, show them how important they are by being there. Physical presence itself in this age of advanced communication technology makes a statement.
As with all business decisions, the question of when to use video conferencing comes down to value. When will the use of video conferencing provide your business the most value (cost savings and increased communication) and when will meeting in person provide better value (improved relationships and increased or saved income)? When you think along those lines, the answer should become apparent for each situation.
Image credit: TheImageGroup
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