In this world of hyper-connectivity and 24/7 access expectations, are face-to-face communications really needed in business? Shouldn’t we always move to the most efficient channel? After all, for those who don’t share the same office space, the most efficient way to reach each other is rarely a face-to-face meeting.
I think that face-time is needed – and I don’t just mean on a smartphone. When there are complex issues, thorny problems and multiple perspectives, facilitated meetings can be invaluable. When consensus and agreement are essential for a team to move forward, a meeting can achieve goals an email chain simply cannot. An in-person meeting gives us the opportunity to emphasize what we share as a group; it can be a place where issues are hashed out and settled. A meeting where people are heard as individuals builds trust. And meetings ending with clear action items can minimize time-consuming sidetracks that derail a schedule.
When people meet for the first time in person, it’s easier to move later to shortcuts, including online communications. Face-to-face introductions build trust so people can agree to share personal information and give access. Is this generational? It certainly could be. Spoiler alert: I’m a Baby Boomer. But a recent Pew Foundation research study said Millennials are actually less trusting than any other generation. Presumably, this influences both in-person and online behavior. Who are you to ask for my cell phone number?
When we recently hosted our fall Common Good Breakfast event, I was struck by the number of people who made warm personal connections. Several told me that was a valuable part of our program. We brought people together around the common challenge of changing demographics that include an older workforce and a disproportionate number of retirees and seniors among us for the foreseeable future. We could have delivered the panel’s content in a GoToMeeting online format or a webinar with Q & A facilitated via submitted texts. But we would have missed something. We would have missed the interaction, the conversations that happened as we ended and the room was still buzzing.
If you came to the last Common Good event, I hope we met or connected in person. If not, please introduce yourself next time. If you weren’t there, ask me to be put on the invitation list for future Common Good meetings on other topics.
Or better yet, call me for coffee. I’d love to meet you – offline.
Joanne Henry joined Neuger Communications Group in early 2014 after managing her own marketing communications and research firm for 12 years. She is engaged in strategic communications counsel for clients and provides leadership in media relations, advocacy, crisis communications and reputation management. Joanne is also known for her work in advocacy and public affairs programs – as well as for her contagious energy and sense of fun. Learn More About Joanne »