Why Virtual Meetings Will Never Replace Face-to-Face Conferences
Aug 24, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

face to face meeting     virtual meeting

It seems as technology becomes better, cheaper, and faster, senior managers push their event teams to look at the virtual alternative. While it is true that a lot of the issues with virtual meetings have been minimized — such as buffering and crashing systems — there is a time and place for each meeting option. Today's lets focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the Face-to-Face and Virtual format. What it really boils down to are these 3 questions planners need to ask themselves:  

  1. What are the event objectives?
  2. What is the budget? 
  3. What do the attendees want? 

Once you answer these questions, the right meeting format will seem clear.

Strengths of Face-to-Face (F2F) Meetings

  • Networking Rules. There is nothing like meeting someone, shaking their hand, and reading their body language. It is hard to start personal conversations, initiate brainstorming or run an icebreaker event remotely. 
     
  • Visual Cues Abound. From sound and lighting rentals to video walls, the attendee can be wowed with color and action. Speakers can integrate video and photographs into their Powerpoint presentation equipment and utilize the effects of sound and lighting to draw the attendee in. 
     
  • Spontaneous Interaction is Available. In a face-to-face meeting, attendees can drive the focus of the meeting. They can ask questions that can lead to additional questions and comments from the audience. The presenter can focus on what the attendees need, right then and there. 

Weaknesses of Face-to-Face Meetings

  • Budgets can be High. With these type of meetings you will incur food and beverage, travel, meeting room, and event audio visual rental costs. Although these costs are nothing out of the ordinary from prior meetings, management teams are always looking for ways to cut costs and some F2F meetings will be affected. 
     
  •  Limited Number of Attendees will Attend. It doesn't really matter how great your content is or how fantastic your presenters are, there will always be a segment of your members, clients, or prospects that will not attend your meeting due to scheduling conflicts or economic reasons. 
     
  • It is Somewhat Difficult to Measure Impact. If you are the type of planner who never surveys your speakers, exhibitors, or attendees, you might want to start. One easy and paperless way to measure impact is through the use of Audience Response System rental units. 

Strengths of Virtual Meetings

  • Lower Travel Costs and Time Away from the Office. The attendee may be able to access the conference via their home computer or go to a central location within driving distance to participate in the meeting.
     
  • Reaches a Wide Audience. Since expenses and travel time are no longer a consideration, virtual attendees have the option to participate live or view the speaker at a later date.
     
  • Easy and Effective Way to Measure Metrics. You will have access to exactly who signed on, when they did so, when they left, and the questions or comments that attendees contributed. 

Weaknesses of Virtual Meetings

  • Hard to Network. Most of the time you do not know who or how many other individuals are attending virtually.  
     
  • Small Event Screen. Individuals usually view the event from their laptop or tablet. It does not give them a total scope of what is going on. In addition, if audience members do not have microphones, the remote attendee cannot hear the question being asked of the speaker. 
     
  • Distractions Are Real. Whether you are viewing the event from home or the office, many interruptions can and will happen. 

AV Event Solutions can provide you with state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals to make your next face-to-face meeting a fantastic undertaking! Get started today by completing the express quote form

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