How to know if your meeting should be in person or virtual

When Do We Actually Need To Meet In Person?

In-person meetings help to build relationships between colleagues! While hosts pass along important information, you can also strengthen the bonds between one another.
November 14, 2022

No matter what happens in the world, meetings within the corporate world still need to happen. Through the pandemic, companies navigated their way through the challenging times and conducted meetings through Zoom. Now that companies are returning to the office, meetings are back to being held in person

The Face-To-Face Meeting

Face-to-face meetings are crucial to the business world, as they help to build strong relationships. Yes, you can see the faces of your colleagues over a Zoom meeting, but with that you have the option to turn the camera off, which many people do! When you are able to sit next to or across from someone and truly have a conversation with them, the relationship building process makes all the difference! 

The importance of in person meetings

5 Cases Where In-Person Meetings Make Sense

Meetings are for discussing certain objectives, ideas or thoughts. There are times when holding in-person meetings make more sense because the employees can focus on the information at hand and build stronger relationships with their colleagues. 

  • <span class="mid-size-title">If The Meeting Is For Team Building</span>

Team building is one of the most important aspects of working in a corporate office. It encourages team members to work together and to get to know each other on both a personal and professional level. When you look at someone while you’re speaking, or they’re speaking to you, you are able to pick up on their body language and facial expressions. You can connect with people easier as you chat about the meeting objectives.

  • <span class="mid-size-title">If The Objectives Are Complex</span>

Typically, with virtual meetings, there is not much support for the employees. Everyone gets behind their screen and might not even pay attention. If the subjects of the meeting are more complex, limiting the distractions and maximizing the support will help you run a successful meeting. With in-person meetings, there are less technical issues to work through!

  • <span class="mid-size-title">If Greater Focus Is Required</span>

As we have all seen during the pandemic, the distractions that can occur during working from home can take the focus away from the meeting. Children, dogs and any other noises can distract the employee from the seriousness of the meeting, and there may be some vital information being discussed during the meeting. When the meeting is held in-person, the fewer distractions there are, and everyone can be engaged with what the speaker is saying and everyone can participate.

  • <span class="mid-size-title">To Build Trust And Business Relationships</span>

Building trust and relationships between you and your colleagues will be beneficial to everyone. When you sit with a group of people and look at their body language and listen to their tone, you can get a feeling for who they truly are as a person. With virtual meetings, for example, there could be thousands of people within the meeting, and people can become lost in the shuffle. With an in-person meeting, there may be a few dozen people, allowing people to connect with everyone on a personal and professional level. 

  • <span class="mid-size-title">If Better Participation Is Needed</span>

As mentioned above, with a virtual meeting, there may be hundreds or even thousands of people attending. There is no way that everyone will have a chance to speak, or even connect with everyone. If your meeting requires participation from its guests, then your meeting should be held in person! Smaller meetings make it easier for the attendees to have their say, agree or disagree with others and actively participate. There are meetings that are a meeting of the minds, where all of the attendees share their input and ideas. These meetings should be held in person, that way everyone has a chance to share!

effectiveness of in person meetings

15 Reasons Why In-Person Meetings Still Matter

Companies are continuing to build those strong relationships with in-person meetings. Although companies have proved that they can conduct meetings online or virtually, the in-person meetings are just so much more personal. 

<span class="mid-size-title">1. Fewer Distractions</span>

With in-person meetings, there are ultimately less distractions that will take the attention away from the meeting. When a person works from home, in their own space, there are a number of things that can distract them from the meeting. Children, animals and outside noises can draw the person away from the meeting. Meetings are where important information is shared, and everyone should be focused on the topics at hand. When you gather people together in a room, the focus will entirely be on the topics and information at hand.

<span class="mid-size-title">2. Better Communication</span>

As topics and information is being discussed within the meeting, there may be questions that arise from the employees. If a question does arise, they can ask those questions immediately, or hold them until the end of the meeting. There should also be no misinterpretation over any of the information being shared. If there is, or any of the information isn’t clear to anyone, be sure to bring it up while still in the meeting- there may be other people within the meeting that have the same questions who might be afraid to ask! There are no silly questions to ask, and asking these questions only help clear the air for everyone involved.

<span class="mid-size-title">3. Better Relationship-Building</span>

Long-term relationships are what you should strive for within the business world. These relationships can be both personal and professional, and getting to know your colleagues better is how you build those relationships! Before and after the meetings, you can engage in small talk with the attendees, and this is how you get the ball rolling with relationship building. 

<span class="mid-size-title">4. Better Focus And Participation</span>

Meetings, as previously discussed, are the best way to share information and even brainstorm new ideas. The focus of the meeting should be on this information, and encouraging attendees to participate. There may be a few attendees who are more shy than others, and they might not want to participate in the meeting. However, understanding that the meeting is a safe place and there will be no judgment, people will feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Attendees who are willing to participate won’t get lost behind a computer screen in a virtual meeting. 

<span class="mid-size-title">5. Interpret Nonverbal Cues</span>

When you are sitting face-to-face with someone, you can easily pick up on their nonverbal cues like body language. Body language can tell a lot about how people are reacting to what is being said. If someone feels uncomfortable with what is being said, you can pick up on that and even change the subject. Nonverbal cues give an insight into how a person is truly feeling, as opposed to how they might say they are feeling.

<span class="mid-size-title">6. Greater Trust</span>

When you host an in-person meeting, you remove the technology and essentially the non-human element which might hide the true feelings of the person. People may act differently when they’re behind a computer screen, and meeting in person can show who they truly are! Building that trust between employees is crucial to working in the corporate world. These relationships can bring new business opportunities, or even opportunities in the personal lives of the employees.

<span class="mid-size-title">7. Higher Engagement</span>

In order to receive higher engagement, in-person meetings encourage employees to participate and speak their mind! There is no hiding behind a computer screen; employees must be face-to-face with their colleagues. When one person speaks up within the meeting, it will encourage others to speak as well. If meeting hosts feel that they are not receiving the engagement they expect, they have the ability to put the attendees on the spot and ask their opinion about the matter at hand.

<span class="mid-size-title">8. Attendees Feel Valued</span>

Employees may not feel valued when they sit in a virtual meeting, as it is less personal than an in-person meeting. When you are in an in-person meeting, you can truly appreciate everyone within the meeting and what they bring to the table. Attendees can take the talking points to heart and digest them. If there are any questions, comments or concerns, those can be addressed right within the meeting.

<span class="mid-size-title">9. Breakout Groups And Activities Occur Faster</span>

With virtual meetings, breakout groups are able to happen, but they take some time to make happen. Between clicks, jumping between rooms and sending chats, these breakout rooms are very time consuming. With in-person meetings, you can assign people into certain groups, and set them free to discuss the matters at hand. It virtually takes no time, and more work can be done with in-person breakout groups!

<span class="mid-size-title">10. Social Interaction</span>

Social interaction is so important for employees, for both their personal and professional lives! Getting to speak to people face-to-face allows you to see the body language of the person when they are speaking about subjects they are passionate about. Whether these subjects are work related or not, you may be able to find something in common with everyone you work with.

<span class="mid-size-title">11. Physical Cues Are Easier To Interpret</span>

As discussed above, body language is so important when it comes to speaking to someone. You can see if they are interested in the subject you are speaking about, or you may be able to see if the subject is uncomfortable to talk about. In virtual meetings, that body language is more difficult to pick up on. The message may be lost in translation when employees sit behind a computer screen.

Technology needed for virtual meetings

<span class="mid-size-title">12. Technology</span>

As we have all seen, technology can be difficult to work with sometimes. Some people might have failing internet connections, others might not be able to get their video to work. With technology issues, the meeting can be delayed, which can cause the conversation to get off track. Once the conversation is off topic, it becomes difficult to get it back to where it needs to be. In-person meetings eliminate the need to have everyone using a piece of technology, ensuring that the meeting can resume as normal.

<span class="mid-size-title">13. Strengthens Relationships</span>

We have mentioned previously that the building of relationships is so important for everyone in the workplace. If you have time before or after the meeting, making small talk with your colleagues can help you find common ground between one another! This common ground can be within the personal or professional lives of everyone, and they can be great talking points for everyone as you build your relationships. 

<span class="mid-size-title">14. Hard Conversations Are Easier To Have</span>

There may be conversations that are difficult to have, such as if someone needs to be terminated from the company. These conversations can be done in a room with the people involved, and whatever the conversation may be, you can try and connect with the person. You can also see the genuine reaction of the person you are speaking with, whether that may be good or bad. 

<span class="mid-size-title">15. Off-The-Record Opportunities</span>

When you are in a virtual meeting, everything that is said ends up going on the record. If you have an in-person meeting, you can be sure that what is being said is only being heard by the people within the meeting room. There may be sensitive or private subjects that need to be discussed, and there may be certain people who are the only ones who need to hear it. 

How To Host An In-Person Meeting

Hosting an in-person meeting should be an easy process! For whatever reason you’re hosting the meeting, gathering people together to discuss the topics at hand will be beneficial to everyone.

  • <span class="mid-size-title">Schedule Around Less Busy Times</span>

The schedules of the employees can be hectic at times! When scheduling a meeting, be sure that this meeting fits in well with the schedules of everyone involved. Try to avoid meetings first thing in the morning and right before the end of day. Meetings in the late morning or early afternoon will be the most productive time for everyone involved! 

  • <span class="mid-size-title">Provide Everyone Masks</span>

Now that many companies are back in the office, you still may need to follow the CDC guidelines. If the guidelines require masks, then provide your guests with a mask! If the CDC guidelines are more relaxed and masks are only an option, still provide your guests with masks. They can choose to wear the masks or not, but following the guidelines of the CDC will be your best bet when it comes to hosting meetings!

  • <span class="mid-size-title">Space Out Seating</span>

Nobody wants to sit directly next to somebody else, especially during cold and flu season. If the room is large enough, you are able to spread out the chairs and people can choose where they want to sit. Spacing out the seating allows each person to have a small space to put bags or any materials they might have with them during the meeting.

  • <span class="mid-size-title">Open The Windows</span>

If the weather permits, opening the windows in the meeting room will help bring fresh air into the room while also helping with the productivity of the group. Fresh air and sunshine can help boost the morale of the group and make everyone feel better about the work they produce.

Open air meetings
  • <span class="mid-size-title">Engage With Participants</span>

As meeting hosts, you should try to make it a point to speak with everyone at the meeting. Even if it’s only a few moments, you can learn about people you may not have known before the meeting started. If time allows after the meeting concludes, take the time to network; you never know the connections you can make from people you work next to everyday!

  • <span class="mid-size-title">Assign Pre-Work</span>

Before the meeting starts, assign any pre-work to the attendees. They will come to the meeting prepared and ready to talk about this work they have done! You can also assign any pre-work at the end of the meeting for any meetings in the future! Having pre-work done by the attendees can also save time within the meeting.

  • <span class="mid-size-title">Avoid Food And Drink</span>

Unless you are specifically hosting a lunch or dinner meeting, try to avoid food and drink! Food and drink is ultimately a distraction for the attendees of the meeting, and it can take the focus away from the meeting. Attendees may get up in the middle of the meeting to refill their coffee or grab another bagel, which will steal the focus away from who is speaking at the moment. 

  • <span class="mid-size-title">Keep It Short</span>

Nobody wants to sit in a meeting all day, especially if they have projects they are working on or have other work to do. Meetings, if done correctly, can be short and direct, with meeting hosts providing all of the information needed in a timely manner. You can get the points of the meeting across to the attendees, and be sure to ask if there are any questions! If there are any questions, try to answer them to the best of your ability.

Where Should You Host In-Person Meetings?

In-person meetings can be held in locations other than a board room! In some instances, with delicate subjects, a meeting room is the best place to host a meeting. However, there are a few places to hold in-person meetings for less sensitive topics. 

  • <span class="mid-size-title">Restaurants</span>

There may be times where a lunch meeting is the best option for everyone. Lunch meetings don’t take away from regular work hours, as everyone is going to have a lunch hour anyway! Restaurant meetings are more casual and relaxed, while everyone enjoys a meal together. Meeting hosts can give the choice of the restaurant to the attendees, and whichever restaurant has the most votes is where you can have the meeting.

  • <span class="mid-size-title">Coffee Shops</span>

Coffee shops are a better option for a one-on-one meeting. These locations are a great backdrop for a meeting, and people can share a cup of coffee together! The subjects talked about in these meetings shouldn’t be delicate ones, as you never know who is listening. 

Holding meetings at coffee shops
  • <span class="mid-size-title">Conference Rooms</span>

Conference rooms are typically bigger than meeting rooms, making it easier to spread the attendees out. Each person can have their own small area for bags, purses or anything else they might need to bring with them. If your meeting chooses to have breakout rooms, these are also easier to facilitate. The groups can take place in certain areas around the room, and attendees can talk about their subjects, then reconvene to speak about their findings. Conference rooms can also come with tables, which might be useful, depending on what the meeting subjects are about. 

<span class="mid-size-title">Conclusion</span>

In-person meetings are all about getting information to the correct people, and allowing them to actively participate in the meeting. Building relationships between you and your colleagues can be beneficial to everyone involved! Meeting subjects may be delicate or difficult to hear, and those should be done with the people involved only. Meetings of all kinds can be formal or informal, and you can choose between various locations for your meeting! However, whichever way you choose to host your meeting, you can be sure that the information will be passed along to the correct people and they will retain that information going forward.

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