Face-to-face interactions remain the most effective and engaging form of communication in the business world. Unlike emails or phone calls, physical meetings offer a rare insight into the mind of your interlocutor. You can pay attention to crucial signs, such as their posture or their intonation, to gain access to their feelings and state of mind. While it doesn’t give you the key to turning every meeting into a new sale, it’s undoubtedly valuable knowledge that can help you to make the most of the interaction.
However, Britons hate face-to-face meetings. They judge them ineffective and time-consuming, with managers criticising the face-to-face culture for wasting a whopping 70 per cent of their day. Does it mean it is now time to turn towards digitally-friendly interactions that can be run in the background while we get on with our jobs? Before considering remote meeting solutions you can manage with a click, you want to experience what a thriving face-to-face environment looks like.
Give your audience a good reason to turn up
Whether you are planning a meeting at the office or throwing a corporate event, your priority when sending invitations is to make sure your guests want to attend. There is nothing worse than participants who feel forced to turn up but wish they were elsewhere. Your agenda is going to be crucial in keeping your audience engaged. Make sure you can get some big names on board. For a corporate event, you can invite some of your clients and partners. For a business appointment, it’s all about creating a meaningful agenda. Are you going to mention some of your big projects or introduce exciting technology? There is no miracle; your agenda serves as bait. If it isn’t interesting or relevant to the current activities, you will effectively be dealing with people who don’t care. Here’s a little hint for office conferences: free food isn’t enough to keep your team engaged.
Wherever you’re going, stand out
Trade shows offer a different perspective on the face-to-face culture. Indeed, while in a typical situation, you get to invite attendees and control the list of invitees, in a networking event, the only info you get is which businesses have a stand. You don’t know anything about the visitors, which can make it challenging to create a discussion. Trade show venues tend to be a busy world in which visitors only go to talk to the brands they’ve previously noticed. How do you attract the attention of someone who doesn’t even know about your brand? Expert Vivid Ads reckons that without a visual display, from banners to signs, you don’t have a chance. Indeed, you have to think of your stand decor as the first touchpoint in the conversation. Ultimately, the first rule of a conversation is to make sure your interlocutor has their eyes on you.
The sweet spot of all in-house meetings
We live in a meeting culture. According to Dilbert’s creator, Scott Adams, ‘meetings have become a life-form capable of calling themselves and reproducing via human hosts’. What Adam means is that more and more professionals organise meetings without a clear purpose. The habit, unfortunately, has created our face-to-face adverse behaviour. In reality, meetings can work if you hit the sweet spot, aka how and when to schedule them productively. Extended sessions are not just a pain in the neck; they also go against people’s natural concentration ability. Anything above 45 minutes is going to affect results.
Show people you care
What happens after a face-to-face interaction is still part of the meeting. Indeed, in a business environment where employees can have up to 5 meetings a day, and visitors get to talk to many companies at an event, you can’t afford to rely on their memory only. The mind is highly selective, and that’s where follow-up emails play a significant role. Indeed, according to Copper Chronicles, it’s a good idea to prepare your follow-up emails before your meeting. You can then take separate note to personalise the content to your contact. It’s an extra step, but it is guaranteed to make your face-to-face interaction more memorable.
Be in the moment
Last but not least, how many of us are guilty of doing one hundred things at the same time. You’ve promised your boss you’ll join the meeting, but you also want to prepare your presentation for another task and answer some of your most urgent emails. Stop right now. You need to be fully there to make the most of each face-to-face contact. Multitasking not only affects your attention but also creates a feeling of disengagement.
People are social creatures, and, as such, they perform better in face-to-face situations. However, our inability to make the most of networking events and meetings is affecting our perceptions of the face-to-face culture. Perhaps, it is time to relearn how to be and work with people effectively rather than embrace a virtual-only interaction platform.