With such a heavy shift towards the use of technology to communicate and network online, it begs the question, are face-to-face meetings still required? Steve Jobs trusts that they are still a necessity and believes they will never go out of style, although “there’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions”.
An in-depth study reported in Harvard Business Review and published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, suggested the success of a face to face meeting is due to the lack of personal connection we experience today. The lack of actual one-on-one connection to someone can ultimately cost us what we really want. The study found that the face-to-face requests were 34 times more likely to garner positive responses than the emails.
The study stated that despite the reach of email, asking in person is the significantly more effective approach; you need to ask six people in person to equal the power of a 200-recipient email blast. Still, most people tend to think the email ask will be more effective. Let’s take a look at some of the many reasons in-person meetings matter.
1. Authentic, trust building experience
Face-to-face meetings are key to building more authentic and trustworthy relationships.
2. Ability to read emotion and body language
Emails and instant messaging have countless benefits, especially since the world we live in is so fast paced, however, they lack body language and tone of voice that helps contextualise the content. Experts say that body language accounts for 93% of human communication and words only make up only 7%.
It is reported that 60% of people regularly misread the tone in messages that are communicated by email or phone. When you’re on a conference call, you can’t pick-up on body language or see how disengaged the audience is. This can keep you rambling on while the attendees start to drift in and out.
4. Improved relationships
It is reported that 85% of people believe strong and more meaningful relationships are established through face-to-face meetings. In-person meetings are also an opportunity for small-talk and a chance to show personality and humour, something often missed by many when emailing.
5. Better chances of working together
Relationships are everything in business and face-to-face meetings help to make them stronger. When having a meeting over video call, it’s hard to feel connected to the end user, which perhaps explains why 80% of millennials are said to prefer in-person meetings. In-person meetings offer more in the way of forging relationships and picking up on information that may not be on the agenda. They allow you to have real memories of the meeting, resulting in better chances of working together.