With the advent of technological advancements and the ongoing economic crisis, questions have arisen about the effectiveness of traditional business practices with regard to travel and business meetings. Leading corporations are on the forefront in the exercise of slashing budgetary allocations as they try to determine when large group meetings are most appropriate and constitute good returns of their limited resources. Consequently, virtual technologies have provided alternatives for conducting face-to-face conference meetings. In this regard, clearly the future of large face-to-face meetings is at stake.
The purpose of having face-to-face events and meetings is usually to exchange information and to network with fellow colleagues. Corporations are concerned over public outcry on their spending on face-to-face meetings. As a result, they have adopted advanced technologies capable of running virtual meetings at a cheaper cost. Apart from being the best alternative of face-to-face meetings, the virtual technologies are also superior. The adoption of virtual technologies means savings in the range of 50 to 80% because costs such as hotel rooms, transportation, rental of the conference venue, packing and shipping displays are not incurred by corporations that hold conferences from time to time (Arslaner 2012).
However, it is important for us to note that the traditional face-to-face business meetings will not die off completely. Human face-to-face communication continues to be the most effective form of communication. This is because live meetings deliver rich experiences that virtual meetings cannot provide. Face-to-face meetings are characterized by delivery of motivation along with inspiration, and messaging with information. Leading corporations are adopting a hybrid of both virtual and face-to-face communication to maximize returns on their investments. It is believed that the traditional model where a presenter takes the stage and addresses a passive audience is not effective as desired. Therefore, these corporations are adopting interactive and social networking tools to increase interactions between the audience and the speaker. Companies such as Apple Inc. and Cisco Systems significantly employ the use of web-based and on-site technologies in their annual general meetings (Arslaner 2012).
During these interactive sessions, attendees use laptops to take part in live Q&A and blogging during the course of presentation. Even smart phones are becoming interactive tools during such meetings for sending text messages to the presenter or to the large screen in use (Arslaner 2012). The mixture of face-to-face communication with virtual technologies allows the attendees to record information without paper and to interact in real-time with the presenter.
Concisely, the convenience offered by virtual technologies, which is cost saving and increased productivity, makes them an inevitable replacement of holding face-to-face meetings in the future. However, it is important to note that traditional face-to-face communication will not die off completely. This is because face-to-face meetings are the most effective where hands-on-training is required. In addition, a study conducted in the year 2009 by Forbes Insight that surveyed 760 business executives to garner their perception about virtual and face-to-face meeting revealed startling facts. While many companies are shifting their focus to virtual technologies as an alternative to face-to-face meetings, an overwhelming number of the executives interviewed (80%) revealed they preferred face-to-face meeting. Most of them cited that in-person contact gave them the opportunity to stronger and meaningful business relationships. In addition, during such meetings they were in a position to judge the facial expression and body language of their business partners. More importantly, in-person interaction enabled them to bond with their clients and co-workers.
Arslaner, Brent. "Virtual Meetings Will Erase Face to Face - BusinessWeek."Businessweek -
Business News, Stock Market & Financial Advice. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2012. < http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2009/01/virtual_meetings_will_eras e_face_to_face.html>