The pros and cons of online meetings

Virtual meetings had their moment when the UK shut up shop during the pandemic. Suddenly, anyone who worked as part of a team was either talking about Zoom or Google Meet. The country didn’t grind to a halt as had been feared. We adapted and meetings took place online. It all seemed so easy and we were left wondering why we hadn’t done it sooner.

Virtual meetings save time and money. They connect people who work on different continents at the click of a mouse, they can be recorded, feature break-out rooms, and a plethora of other extra features. The advantages are many, but there are some advantages that come with face-to-face communication that you don’t get with online meetings.

Advantages of face-to-face communication

It’s much easier to pick up on non-verbal cues when you are in the same room as somebody. Have you noticed how people tend to talk over each other during online meetings in a way that doesn’t happen so much in real life? That’s because we’re missing those non-verbal cues that are much harder to read virtually.

There are fewer misunderstandings with face-to-face interactions. found in a survey that 63% of people missed important information when they relied on virtual communication such as e-mail, calls, or online meetings.

When people gather in the same place, it creates group energy. This fosters engagement and can spark creativity and a sense of community that is hard to replicate when you’re talking to a set of squares on a screen. Seeing people in real life also helps to build trust, again, you are able to pick up on subtle non-verbal clues that are hard to catch virtually. Eye contact, tone of voice, and facial expressions are all much clearer in real life than they are in an online meeting.

Meeting in real-life also enables you to be more persuasive. It’s easier to say no to somebody when you’re not sitting in the same room as them and know that they will disappear once you click on the end meeting button.

There are however, disadvantages to face-to-face communication too, namely:

  • If you are part of a global team then it is going to be highly expensive to get everyone in the same place at the same time. Virtual meetings connect you with anyone in the world regardless of time zones.
  • Real-life meetings tend to take longer to arrange. You can hop on a Zoom call in a matter of minutes but it takes time and diaries to arrange a face-to-face meeting.
  • Team members who can’t make it into the office for various reasons, ranging from sick kids to illness, injury, or personal commitments, can join an online meeting when a face-to-face gathering might be out of the question

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