I'm a big believer in face-to-face meetings. I've done them all my life, I'll jump on a plane at a moments notice to see a new client or a prospective client because I know that if I see them face to face I'm pretty certain to get the project whereas if I have a Skype call, the chances are less.
I'm not saying we can't use platforms like Skype or Zoom, I use them all the time. But I am saying that we should never completely stop having face-to-face meetings, especially in the early, formative stages of a relationship where you are getting to know each other.
We are all time deprived, and whilst there is a lot of commentary about how meetings can be a waste of time right now, how much time is actually wasted by poor communication over email and with other digital mechanisms. More often than not, a short, well structured and well-planned meeting can save an incredible amount of time. Sometimes new tech is not always better tech.
There are ten main reasons that I'm such a big fan of face-to-face meetings and why I will never stop having them:
- I'm able to read the body language of the other people in the room, which often sends a very different message to what their words are saying. Non-verbal communication is far more important than the words being said and being able to see this live is hugely valuable.
- In face-to-face meetings the conversation is less labored and to the point, meaning it can tend to go in different directions more naturally, and from my experience, this leads to more opportunities.
- I find it much easier to engage with people when sitting across from them, face to face. We can laugh, hear each other clearly, make a comment about something in the office or something we've seen on the way in and so forth.
- We don't have the issues associated with the technology of virtual meetings, like "Skype Thunderbird Syndrome", camera problems, connection issues, wasting 10 minutes trying to get the microphone to work and so on. These issues drive me insane.
- Face to face meetings tend to feel "clearer". The key points are clear, the issues are clear and who needs to do what from this point on is clear. Virtual meetings can feel a bit foggy and less defined simply because they are often a little like talking under water.
- It's much easier to build relationships through face-to-face meetings than it is with virtual meetings. And relationships are without a doubt, the key to any kind of long-term business success in my opinion.
- It's definitely a lot easier to brainstorm face to face with a whiteboard and butchers paper than it is to do over a virtual meeting platform.
- You can make more of an impression face to face, based on what you are wearing, how you conduct yourself in the meeting, even your computer/pens etc. This is a big part of our personal brand, whether you like it or not.
- It's easier to have some small talk when face to face and if you are smart, you can get a lot of information out of a few minutes of small talk which can help with building relationships, customizing what you are going to say in your pitch and much more.
- Last but not least, it is always better to have the hard conversations face-to-face. So much gets lost in translation otherwise, and a small problem can grow in a big problem simply because we didn't make the effort to meet with someone face-to-face to talk through the issue and work out a solution.
So think about your current business relationships. Could some of them benefit from you making the extra effort to have a face-to-face meeting? I'm pretty certain most of us would say yes. I know it takes more effort, but the easy path is rarely the best path in the world of the business owner.
The real key here is to make them productive, smart, effective meetings, not just irritating meetings that really are a waste of time. Use meetings wisely and they are a great business tool. It's becoming easier every day to not have face to face meetings, that doesn't mean we shouldn't.