These days the technologies exist to allow most meetings to be held virtually. From conference calls, to web conferencing, and lately even video conferencing, there are many different options to choose from in determining what type of meeting to run.

In addition to saving time online meetings are also more environmental friendly  due to the reduction in the carbon footprint resulting from less traveling to and from meetings. However, there are times when in person meetings are vastly preferable to remote meetings and vice versa. Sometimes the two can be used in parallel. MeetingKing, the meeting facilitation and documentation tool, has the distinct advantage of being able to support both online and face to face meetings.

Virtual meetings (also referred to as online meetings or remote meetings) are an excellent option for when distances between participants are very great. These meetings can be more time-efficient because travel time is significantly reduced. These meetings can enhance productivity in your business, especially when MeetingKing is used to prepare the agenda, write the minutes and  keep track of tasks. In support of online meetings, MeetingKing can be effectively utilized in combination with Skype, Webex, GotoMeeting, MeetingBurner and other similar tools. The conference login details may be entered into the location field of the meeting invite, so that all participants are aware of how to access the meeting, and can find this information quickly. Another example of all information in one place.

However, there are some situations where online meeting simply won’t cut it. In particular, sensitive meetings relating to human resource matters such as grievances, disciplinary action or one-to-one meetings with employees should almost always be held face to face, especially if they involve the sharing of difficult decisions.

In addition, if a meeting involves a presentation or demonstration of any kind, or brainstorming using a physical whiteboard, inviting some participants to a conference call won’t work either. These callers will get lost when they can’t see the props that the other attendees are referring to. In this case, only an in person meeting or at the very minimum, a video conference will suffice.

Body language tells us a lot about what others are thinking. It is a key component of communication. In any situation where it is important to be able to gauge what a person is thinking not just by what they are saying, but also through their body language (yes, sometimes these do not say the same things!) anything other than a face to face meeting may prove to be inadequate.

Even if you have an effectively operating distributed team and run your organization exclusively with remote meetings, an occasional in person meeting is highly recommended. It will foster team spirit and on-line interaction is easier after you have met a person face to face.

Advantages of Online Meetings

  • These meetings are usually relatively cheap to run.
  • Increase productivity by saving on travel time to the meeting, if people are not in the same location.
  • Allow for immediate decisions to be made across vast geographical distances

Advantages of Face to Face Meetings

  • Can best understand when what a person is saying conflicts with what they might be thinking, through body language.
  • Help to provide sensitive feedback or bad news to individuals on a one to one basis.
  • Avoid people multitasking, e.g. working on the computer while attending the meeting – there is a better chance of getting attendees’ full attention.

Whether remote or in person, meeting format must be decided during the meeting planning phase of the process. Knowing how the meeting is going to be held in advance helps the invitees plan their attendance – either their transportation to the meeting and sufficient time to include this, or that they have the right tools – web, video etc – set up to be able to attend. MeetingKing supports both of these options allowing meeting coordinators to provide these details at the meeting invitation stage. More information on how to prepare for a meeting and how to create an agenda can be found at: http://meetingking.com/how-to-create-a-meeting-agenda/