The power of face-to-face meetings
In a world where business communication is dominated by Hangouts, Skype, Instant Messenger, Email, Phone, Video Conferencing and the like, it can be easy to forget the importance of face-to-face meetings. While it’s impossible to deny that interacting using all the wonders of modern technology can save time and money, it’s important to remember what we miss out on when we opt out
of face-to-face communication.
Here at the HAC we have a rich and impressive history of ‘face-to-face’ events that owe their success to the fantastic speakers who took part in them. Speaking at Armoury House during our St George’s Dinner in 1953 the then Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, addressed a room full of VIPs including the Arch Bishop of Canterbury and the Admiral of the Fleet. Churchill owed much of his professional success to the influence he held when dealing in person with individuals or groups of people. His charisma in one-on-one situations and his skills in public speaking are a lesson to us all in what can be achieved if we (re-) embrace this time-honoured medium.
Body language and tone of voice
Whether you’re aware of it or not, we all read other people’s body language every time we engage in a face-to-face conversation. The way someone stands, tilts their head, folds their arms – all of these non-verbal clues give a certain slant to the words they’re using. A defensive pose and aggressive tone of voice can turn a seemingly positive comment of ‘what are you doing here?’ into an accusation. Admittedly an unlikely affront to be encountered in a business meeting, but you get the point. Think about how many less obvious misunderstandings might have gone uncorrected when a conversation doesn’t take place in the flesh?
Written vs spoken word
Do you speak in the same way you write emails or messages? Lots of us use language that doesn’t fully represent our thoughts and feelings. Everyone has a colleague or contact who ‘isn’t good on email.’ Perhaps he or she doesn’t bother with pleasantries, isn’t as articulate or competent at getting their message across. Even if you think you’re fabulous at constructing emails that hit all the markers for the message you’re trying to get across, there’s always room for interpretation at the other end.
Think of your favourite suppliers, contractors, clients… anyone outside of your office. Why is your relationship with them so strong? Chances are because you enjoy their company. Imagine if you had this strong a relationship with everyone you work with. This is only achievable by building an actual, real relationship with them in person.
As well as learning a lot from someone by hearing and seeing them in flesh during a conversation, you’re also giving yourself the opportunity to adjust the way you behave to make the best impression. In a face-to-face discussion you’ll be able to see how receptive the other person is to what you’re saying and it should be easy to adapt your pitch accordingly. Churchill owed much of his success to his influence as a speaker, although by his own admission he was not a natural orator. He spent a huge amount of time working on his public speaking skills, having to overcome a lisp and a rumoured stutter. Needless to say, communicating in the flesh is a skill worth your commitment.
Meeting face-to-face will produce faster results if there are areas of a project where there are lots of things up for discussion. Sticking points can be thrashed out when a group of decision makers get together in a way that email cannot replicate.
When people get together something happens which can’t be reproduced through any other communication medium – chemistry. When you have a group of people together, feeding off each other’s enthusiasm, bouncing ideas around the room, being stimulated by the buzz of each other’s energy, great things can happen. Holding a meeting through any other means might well provide satisfactory results, but what genius idea did you miss out on?
Face-to-face at The HAC
If you think your next meeting would benefit from being held in an inspiring space, give our Events Team a call on 020 7382 1533 to discuss what you need. Here at The HAC we’ve got lots of different rooms for all manner of events, plus acres of outside space. Based in the heart of the City, we’re the perfect choice for off-site meeting, parties, conferences, exhibitions and dinners.