With the rise of technology in every aspect of our modern lives, many companies have been relying on digitally focused meetings or experimenting with ‘phygital’ meetings (the hybrid of physical and virtual meetings which allow combining face-to-face gatherings with digital networking). Either way, they’ve chosen to forgo the traditional face-to-face, which means they could be missing out on the positive businesses experiences that face-to-face interactions initiate.
It’s easy to lose focus when you’re attending a virtual meeting, whether your dialling in from a home office where distractions like noisy neighbours, your cat crying for more food and the pile of dirty washing in the corner of the room are ever present. Or attending remotely in another part of the business where the uncertainty that the technology is actually going to work can leave attendees feeling stressed and frustrated before the meeting has even begun.
It's becoming easier every day to not have face to face meetings, that doesn't mean we shouldn't. Delegates are increasingly becoming desensitised and numb to digital experience and as a result, it looks like old school is becoming new school. 2019 is seeing an increasing demand for meeting venues nationally, supporting our opinion that corporate gatherings are a powerful force for positive business interactions and growth.
Want to inspire your delegates? Consider adding ‘old school’ face-to-face meetings to the agenda again. A well-planned face-to-face meeting offers a chance for attendees to access the information they need in an environment away from the distractions of their everyday lives. A well-structured meeting held in an appropriate venue can work wonders for focus and productivity. Moreover, events that take place in person create real emotional experiences and can, therefore, be more memorable. The power of human interaction should not be underestimated. With the way we work continually changing and moving away from the traditional five days a week based in an office surrounded by colleagues, it’s now increasingly common to work at least some of the time from home, alone. We’re also expected to work on the move, travelling for work and meeting our deadlines as we move through service stations, leaving little time to interact with the world around us. While our productivity has increased, professional isolation is undoubtedly growing.
We spend on average 1,795 hours a year, and 84,365 hours over a lifetime at work. It’s important to remember that work isn’t just about counting the days until each payday, it’s about meeting like-minded people, sharing ideas and working toward common goals. The working day needs to be fulfilling, people need to feel valued and that they’re making a positive contribution to the world around them. Over a lifetime of working, British employees will have nearly three months off sick, a total of 94 days. This could be considerably reduced if overall wellbeing is improved in the workplace, and this can start with creating more opportunities for positive human interactions.
A sense of community and spending actual physical time with other people is extremely important to our daily lives. Neighbours, friends and family all add to the positive experiences we need in our lives. There’s nothing better than spontaneously meeting a neighbour and having a chat over the recycling bins. Or the simple act of just saying ‘hello’ in the street. These interactions are extremely important as they remind us that the world is full of nice, friendly people. Communities are valuable - they provide support to individuals who are impacted by the daily stress, struggles and the chaos of modern life.
Community doesn’t have to be where you live, your professional community is just as important. Being in the same room as a client or colleague, shaking hands with them or simply having a coffee with a new potential business partner creates a sense of community and an accurate understanding of a situation without having to guess what is actually meant through digital correspondence.
Personal interactions provide us with opportunities to pick up on gestures, tone and nuance which are things that over email may be misinterpreted. 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by non-verbal cues, talking face-to-face becomes more important than ever. Face to face meetings can also allow you to immerse your attendees in your brand and key messages. In-person events provide more than an opportunity for you to engage with your audience, they allow you to bring like-minded people together to learn and connect in a way that isn’t possible online. Interactions are more natural and can open up topics of discussions and conversations that take you to really interesting places in terms of business opportunities and ensure that you’re having meetings that actually matter and aren’t taking place just for the sake of it.
Businesses are slowly realising that it makes good sense to promote human interactions. Face to face events build trust. In a world where loneliness has become a real problem for overall well-being human interactions can provide a strong foundation for creating valuable relationships and connections that promote a sustainable business strategy.
They may not be as easy to organise, but face to face meetings will help you build real, profitable relationships and communities that just won’t happen digitally. When attendees are logging on to a digital event, they only see and hear what the camera wants them to, limiting their experience and interactions. When people physically attend an event, you can stimulate all five senses: touch, sight, taste, smell and hearing.
The real key message here is to make meetings productive, smart and effective, not just irritating events that waste everyone's time. Use meetings wisely and they are a great business tool. Face-to-face meetings tend to be shorter than conference calls - on the phone, everyone sits around on mute waiting for the discussion to end, which is not a valuable use of time.
So, look for digital and online experiences that complement and enhance your event and create real opportunities for positive human interactions. Are you using technology for a purpose? Is it actually adding value to your event and attendees experiences?
So, what are you waiting for? Start organising your next face to face meeting.
Looking for the perfect space to hold your next meeting? Take a look at our inspirational meeting venues here.
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