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Don't Write Off Meetings Just Yet


Posted on August 22, 2006


By Jeffrey W. Rasco, CMP

I opened the local paper this morning and saw a teaser about web-based conferencing being ready to surge thanks to two things – rising oil prices and terrorism. When I turned back to the business section, the story was about a local company that provides equipment and services for video teleconferencing. The picture of the local business owner at his desk, and his partner projected on the video screen, showed them looking giddy at the prospects of fewer people traveling and more logging on.

Ouch.

I remember in the ‘80’s when the cover of one of the trade magazines featured a row of satellite dishes with a headline that asked something like “The Death of Live Meetings?” Remember the spike in interest in web conferencing after 9/11? Since people would no longer travel by airplane to meet, WebEx and her sisters would flourish. And they have.

I flew to Boston last week (fortunately not from Heathrow), just a couple of days after the British brought down the terrorist cell planning to blow up planes over the Atlantic. Yes, I checked the bag that I would normally have carried on (I like my own toiletries), but every plane was packed. The conference I attended was packed, too. We are learning to live with the world as it (unfortunately) is, and continuing to meet face-to-face.

I have nothing against meeting over the Internet. It is how we conduct our training and make most of our sales presentations at AMi. Web conferencing is an extremely valuable tool in the meeting professional’s toolbox, and knowing when and how to use it is one of the things that sets us apart from “cup counters.” But as long as humans remain the social animals we are, meeting online will continue to grow and flourish, but as an adjunct to physical meetings.

Smile on, video guys, but don’t start writing the obit for meetings just yet.

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Comments

Joan Eisenstodt

Nice stuff, Jeff! I concur. I was president of our MPI chapter (PMPI) in the early '80s when video conferencing was first touted as the next best thing. In John Naisbitt's "High Tech, High Touch" we saw what tech creates. In a recent "60 Minutes" rebroadcast, people in their 20s - online gamers -said they too want to meet f2f to know those w/ whom they've been gaming. Naw..we're not there yet and may never be. (Did I just predict that?)

markjordan

Jeff,

I agree with you wholeheartedly. There is a time and a place for video and web conferencing, but it will not be the replacement for live meetings until such time as risk, cost or both make it absolutely impossible to meet f2f.

That said, I think there is still a valuable place for these types of technologies in an organizational toolkit.

Just as multiple forms of media enhance a learning experience, adding video or web visuals can enhance certain types of meetings that would otherwise take place in a mono-dimensional format like the telephone.

As you noted, certain types of training can be facilitated using these technologies. I suspect account management updates could be handled this way with greater frequency, as could certain types of sales follow-up conversations and presentations. We already see a migration by recruiting firms to conducting initial interviews in this manner.

However, humans are social beings by nature, and we take many of our cues from things that we cannot yet obtain via remote meeting technologies. And, to some extent, the degree of our behavioral propriety is also governed by cues only taken through live environments. It's pretty much a no-brainer that we're more likely to let our attention drift if we think we cannot be seen, than if we're sitting in a meeting and interacting with those around us.

Rob Carey

Jeff,
As you've observed from your recent travels, planes are packed. On the flip side, technology is at the point where electronic meetings are no problem. So what is the conclusion? That more meetings are taking place than ever before, because the speed of business today has made people realize the value of, and need for, almost constant communication--both in person and via technology.

There's no zero-sum game here--the meetings pie is getting bigger. Good news for all of us.

Canada Goose Jacket

a lot of editors have started to understand more about alternate options, they will obtained a little cameras, spend some money to hire nearby residents and individuals across the actors within the facilities

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