Are face-to-face meetings still important?

One CEO looks pass convenience and advocates for old school, in-person meetings.

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March 17, 2015 |
Steven Burns
Are face-to-face meetings still important?

It’s particularly important for sensitive communication, when having tone and body language for context makes a difference.

As the pace of business continues to increase, some business leaders have scrapped in-person meetings in favor of the latest high-tech solutions.

“But this prioritization of speed over face time grossly underestimates the power of human interaction and the importance of face-to-face communication,” writes Mina Chang, CEO and President of Linking the World International, in a Forbes post. “If the point of business were simply to accomplish as many tasks as possible, then yes, an email would probably do. But that’s not what real leadership is about.”

Chang argues that managing a successful team — and consequently, a successful business — requires personal connections. That’s because business is, in large part, about building relationships.

As she travels throughout the world, Chang observes that face-to-face interactions build trust, understanding, and a real sense of a shared mission.

“That’s because you do business with people, not entities,” she writes. “The beauty of communication is found in the nuance that’s only felt in face-to-face conversations. And when a whopping 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by non-verbal cues, talking face-to-face becomes more important than ever.”

It’s particularly important for sensitive communication, when having tone and body language for context makes a difference. In addition, meetings can foster greater buy-in from staff and stakeholders.

“A lack of in-person communication means constituents miss out on the reasoning behind decisions, making them less likely to engage,” she writes. “What’s more, it’s easier for them to feel less accountable. When making any kind of request, the probability of getting your desired answer is greater when you have a face-to-face meeting.”

To get the most out of your meetings, Chang recommends the following:

  1. Prepare beforehand. Send your team facts and figures before the meeting, so you won’t waste valuable face time silently reading together.
  2. Keep people on their toes. To keep your meeting short and action-oriented, remove the chairs. When people are standing, unnecessary chatter will be kept at a minimum.
  3. Set expectations. Let your team know the approximate length of the meeting ahead of time.

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Steven Burns | The Business Behind Design

Steven Burns, FAIA spent 14 years managing the firm Burns + Beyerl Architects, and during that time the firm’s earnings grew at an average rate of 24% per year. After founding his own software company, Steve took his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is refining their business strategy and product development for the company’s groundbreaking project accounting solution, BQE Core.

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