The virtual vs face to face debate

28th May 2012

I recently read this article about why virtual meetings won’t replace face to face meetings. In principle I agree with this view. Fundamentally we are human beings, and the virtual space does not fulfill our human instinct to connect with people. When there is a need for work to be done by a group that need high trust levels, there will always be the need for face to face working.

However, the development of new technologies is enabling more and more sophisticated virtual working. The use of online meeting platforms combined with tablet technology means we can collaborate creatively to share perspectives, create ideas and solve problems in the virtual space. I think there is a lot of poor meeting practice in the virtual meeting space, as there is in face to face meetings. But the virtual space is less forgiving of poor meeting skills.

So, I think the art of getting the right combination of virtual and face to face meetings will come when leaders pay more attention to their meetings as a strategic vehicle for making things happen, especially their preparation. During the preparation phase of a meeting, the purpose, outcomes and outputs must be clarified. That is the time to sense check the best choice of medium for the meeting.