Is There Still Value In Face-to-Face Meetings?

Since the economic downturn began in 2008, many organizations have struggled with justifying the expenses associated with holding, or attending conferences. I can certainly understand this as we’ve wrestled with these same issues. “Can I afford to bring my remotely located staff together for a retreat? Can I afford to attend that training? Can I afford to attend my association’s annual conference? Can I afford NOT to do any of these things?”

Tough questions for tough economic times. Fortunately we are starting to see some studies validating the value of face to face meetings. This past summer, Forbes released a study entitled “Business Meetings: The Case for Face to Face“. The study surveyed over 750 businesses and asked whether or not web conferences, video conferences and other virtual meetings can really take the place of face to face meetings.

For those of us who plan, or host conferences, the results are encouraging. 80% said they preferred face to face meetings over virtual meetings! Here are the top 3 reasons they gave for their preference:

  1. Helps to build stronger, more meaningful relationships
  2. Allows them to read body language and facial expressions
  3. Greater social interaction

Also in the survey, the executives were asked which specific business actions or outcomes were best served through face to face interaction. As you might expect, they listed some pretty important actions:

  • Persuasion (91%)
  • Leadership (87%)
  • Engagement (87%)
  • Inspiration (85%)
  • Decision Making (82%)
  • Accountability (79%)
  • Brainstorming (73%)
  • Strategy (73%)

While this study focused on business executives, I think the findings are still applicable to the world of Christian meetings and retreats. At the end of the day, people still prefer personal interaction over looking and talking to someone on a computer screen. The question for us is, what are we doing to foster and maximize the value of that personal interaction?