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  • Writer's pictureNick Andriacchi

The Value of In Person Meetings

WebEx, Zoom, Teams meetings etc. have been the norm for over a year. These meetings are not going to go away and while this medium has been essential to conduct business meetings, education, religious services and a host of personal interactions, I think much is lost when we don’t meet in person.

Photo: WDM

From a matter of personal experience, I serve as finance chair at St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta Parish in Chicago. All of our meetings have been held virtually over the last year. Since I was at the church office during the last meeting, Pastor Father Li and I had an opportunity to socialize afterwards. It was interesting when he brought up a few things he missed about meeting in person. While virtual meetings were valuable during the pandemic period. he thought those meetings were lacking in three major areas.

Team Building – It is much easier to have a sense of belonging when the group is able to meet live. Individual personalities are brought out and valued. Plus, its easier to get the group to buy into the vision and feel more connected to the parish.

Idea Generation – The best ideas tend to happen in the casual conversation(s) AFTER the formal meeting is over. It’s nice when folks hang around and just talk. When meeting online, once the meeting is over – its over. Folks just tend to logoff and move on their next chore.

Focus – when meeting live, its much easier to focus on the task(s) at hand as opposed to being on-line where distractions are abundant.

Below is an article that was published well before the onset of the pandemic which I thought was another reminder of the importance of in-person meetings.

Founder, Uber Brands

June 22, 2017

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I had an early morning meeting (on a Saturday) in California with the team at Devise Interactive. I’m involved in a new venture, and our team wanted to meet face-to-face to discuss several components of this project with their entire team.

I took a 5 a.m. flight that got me to Orange County, Calif., at 8 a.m. I got less than two hours of sleep and had to go straight from the airport to our team meeting at 9 a.m. I checked into my hotel late that evening and slept for about three hours before my early Sunday morning flight home.

I was exhausted, both physically and mentally, but it was well worth it.

The Devise Interactive team went into the office on a Saturday and our team gave up our weekend simply to meeting properly, because we all know the true benefits of sitting down and having a face-to-face meeting.

There is so much technology available today that helps with communication -- email, text, video conferencing, etc. -- but they can never provide the same kind of value an in-person meeting provides. Here are five reasons why.

1. Your conversations become more in-depth.

Text messages or emails are typically short and straight to the point. When you meet in person, the conversation can be expanded on, allowing you to dive into more in-depth topics.

Business relationships often have several very complex moving parts, and it’s very hard to get all the details hashed out through email or over the phone. Meeting in person allows you to touch on all the important aspects of the business relationship.

2. You get a better impression of someone's personality.

Someone’s personality can tell you a lot more about them than just words can. Body language, facial expressions and more can help you truly understand someone.

It’s also hard to make an impactful first impression via email or even on a video conference -- it never has the same kind of impact an in-person meeting can deliver. “In any business setting, the first impression sets the tone for the relationship, and an in-person meeting will always provide the strongest first impression,” suggests George Sink, founder of George Sink, P.A.

When I first started communicating with Devise Interactive and founder Dalip Jaggi, I felt great. The initial communication gave a strong indication that this could be a very strong relationship, but the positive first impression when we met in person trumped all previous communications.

3. You learn a lot by meeting in their environment.

In my situation, meeting in a potential partner's work environment had a massive impact on me and my team. As soon as we walked into their office, we were smacked directly in the face with the creative vibe that surrounded us.

When you meet in person, you are able to see someone in their natural habitat. While we were meeting with a creative design and development agency, it really doesn’t matter if you are meeting with a lawyer, accountant or real estate agent -- you learn so much about someone when you sit down with them in their environment.

4. Small talk allows you to truly get to know someone.

“Most conversations that occur through email or phone calls don’t get off track -- they are strictly business related. When you meet in person, it gives you the chance to throw some small talk in, which allows you to really get to know someone,” says Yosi Yahoudai, Founder of J&Y Law Firm.

Little things, like learning about someone's family or hobbies, can introduce a common ground that allows you to build a much stronger relationship. Our meeting was very long that day -- it was six straight hours of brainstorming and creativity. We learned a lot about each other, and then after the meeting we all had dinner together. This provided an opportunity to get to know everyone in a way that would never have happened if we strictly communicated virtually.

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