Before the invention of the webcam in 1991, if you needed to see your meeting participants, you had no choice but to travel to meet them. If they were in another state or even another country, your company would have to spend a significant amount of money in order for you to attend the meeting. Travelling to the meeting could take quite a while, reducing the amount of time available for you to complete other important work and therefore reducing productivity.
Now, by using webcams it is possible to have a face-to-face meeting without having to spend time and money travelling to an in-person meeting. Here are 4 different ways to collaborate in business so you can decide which one would work best for you.
For an in-person meeting, you are physically in the same room as your meeting participants. The only times this type of meeting is the best option is when:
- you need to be able to touch things, such as product samples.
- you need to easily divide up into smaller "breakout" groups to discuss ideas and then come together as a large group again to discuss results (however, this could also be achieved via an audio or web conference).
Many people will tell you that the main advantage of in-person meetings is the increased ability to convert prospects into customers because it's harder to say “no” when speaking face-to-face compared to in an email or on a phone call. While this was true in the past, this is no longer a valid reason to spend time and money on attending in-person meetings.
Here's why using web conferencing is superior to meeting in person:
- Web conferencing with a webcam helps you achieve that face-to-face element, which makes it harder for people to say no to you, while simultaneously saving your business both the time and money that would have been spent travelling to that meeting. You can convert prospects into customers from the comfort of your office or home!
- You could fit many more sales meetings into your day when you don't have to spend time travelling to and from in-person meetings. You can show your products or services and even run demonstrations much more efficiently. You can increase revenue while simultaneously reducing expenditure - it's a win-win!
- If you did travel to meetings, you could run into technical difficulties when setting up your laptop in an unfamiliar environment. By meeting from your office or home you have the opportunity to make sure everything is running smoothly well in advance, avoiding any embarrassing technical issues.
Face-to-face meetings via web conferencing
Especially at the beginning of a business relationship, meeting in person can help to establish a rapport that will create a strong basis for a successful relationship. However, after that initial meeting, there's no need for you to keep spending time and money on meeting in person because the most common advantages of meeting in person can also be achieved via a web conference.
Increased trustNon-verbal communication, such as facial expressions and posture, strongly influences how we interpret verbal information. When your non-verbal signals match your verbal signals, this increases trust and understanding. The ability to see each other via webcam allows this non-verbal communication to be seen, ensuring you can continue to build rapport in your business relationships.
Increased engagementThe urge to multitask while on a phone conference means that attendees are often not as engaged as they should be. Without a visual element, there's no way to know what your guests are doing on the other end of the line. Face-to-face meetings increase engagement by making sure everybody can see each other.
Increased productivityBeing able to share screens in your web conference allows you to collaborate on projects and documents easily at a moment's notice, no matter where your guests are. This means you'll be more productive because you're not wasting precious working time on travelling to meetings.
Instant messaging services
Instant messaging and email can be used effectively by many types of businesses to communicate amongst themselves, as well as with remote employees and freelancers. While this is a non-disruptive way to connect with peers in real time on non-urgent matters and can simplify group discussions, it can also be a very impersonal way of communicating. You can't achieve the same level of connection you would with a face-to-face web conference or even a simple phone call.
Plus, written messages often don't convey the intended tone. Those all-important non-verbal cues are missing, leaving the reader to interpret it however they want. This can end in miscommunication and bad decisions. At the very least a conversation should be conducted verbally to minimise the chances of any miscommunication due to a lack of tone.
If all you need is to speak with your meeting guests, an audio conference will serve you well. You still save all the time and money you would have spent on travelling to the meeting, plus you also have the advantage of hearing the tone of the person you're talking to. This minimises the chance of any misunderstandings.
An audio conference can be tailored to your requirements so that you can meet with large numbers of people easily and efficiently. Participants can join via a landline or mobile, so you can meet to make important decisions anytime, anywhere.
The aim of every business, now more than ever, is to work smarter, not harder. By embracing innovative ways of working and using audio and web conferencing rather than insisting on traditional, time-consuming in-person meetings, more people can work efficiently as a team. Groups can truly collaborate, no matter where in the world everyone is located.
You can make sure your business is operating at optimal efficiency by approaching each opportunity for collaboration with whichever of these communication methods best suits the situation.