Naysayers have many arguments about the drawbacks of web meetings. In an article in Forbes magazine, John Russell, chief executive of NYLO Hotels, makes a cogent—if outdated—point. “[P]ersonal interaction… is the foundation on which business relationships are built.”
Ask anyone who spends significant amounts of time on Twitter or Facebook and they’ll argue that relationships can be built almost as easily over the web. Add real-time audio and video components and a virtual meeting is just as good as quaffing mojitos together after a Vegas trade show—with no hangover.
No Time for Small Talk?
Another article on a British technology web site noted how web meetings lack pre- and post-meeting chatter. Business associates can really get to know each other on a personal level when they take time before meetings to chat or share dinner afterward. This is often where inspiration strikes, great ideas are formed and bonds are strengthened.
These opportunities present themselves in web meetings, too. Chat functions make it easy for participants to hold sideline conversations without interrupting the presenter, and participants can easily talk or “chat” as they wait for the room to fill up. Some of a company’s best ideas and partnerships can be formed in private message boxes during large web meetings.
Face-to-Face v. Faces-to-Faces
If your main goal is to form relationships, few things beat one-on-one interaction—whether in person or over the web. But even those who don’t see web meetings taking the place of one-on-one rendezvous see the tremendous benefits when the dynamic changes from face-to-face to faces-to-faces.
In large groups, web meetings move quicker than in-person conferences. Side chatter does not interrupt a meeting and with a more organized structure, every participant gets a chance to have a say. There are other benefits to web meetings for large groups, too.
- No crowded conference rooms.
- One person speaks at a time.
- Everyone gets a clear view of the slides, web sites or peripheral information on the screen.
This article on the psychology of teleconferencing brings up some interesting pros and cons of the technology. What are your thoughts?