Most of the current collaborative-technology related literature confirms that in-person business meetings allow attendees to develop trust in ways that are not always possible with other forms of communications. According to a frequent virtual meeting participant, in spite of conducting many virtual meetings, she felt comfortable about the meets only after meeting the other team members face-to-face!
But, defying such a huge technological challenge, The Digital Evolution Journey of the Contact Center, suggests that the video chats provide higher opportunities for deep personal engagements than in-person meetings because digitization offers a certain comfort level unavailable in physical meetings.
The Other Technological Challenge – Cognitive Overload
On leading Virtually blog, a slightly old 2010 post titled Is Video Conferencing a Good Substitute for Face-to-face Meetings, points out that technology researchers have revealed how video chat users face a higher cognitive load than in-person communicators. The reasons behind this difference are the uncertainty of identifying the speaker across the chat platform, understanding non-verbal cues, coordinating eye-contact, and controlling the pace of the digital conversation. These psychological factors create a bias in favor of a likable personality; in other words a speaker who is popular or well liked is perceived better than a stranger or a disliked individual.
On the other hand, as in-person meetings do not impose any technological burden on the psyche of the communicators, the receivers are less influenced by the personality of the speaker and focus more on just the quality of the information received.
To prove this point, a certain medical study showed that participants attending a medical seminar via video conferencing were more influenced by the speaker’s personality than by the quality of the arguments presented. This pattern was reversed in case of an in-person medical seminar.
So if meeting planners intentionally select popular personalities for conducting virtual seminars, workshops, or meetings, it is highly likely that such virtual meetings will be a better alternative to physical meetings.
Significant Cost Savings
A Business Week article, Virtual Meetings Will Erase Face to Face Meetings states that consistently, all major companies are significantly reducing their meeting budgets since 2008. In ongoing economic uncertainties, advanced technologies seem to promise less expensive methods for holding ambitious corporate events on the virtual platform. Research has indicated that collaborative technologies have helped to save meeting or event costs by as much as 50% to 80% by eliminating costs of venue rental, hotel rooms, transportation, and other associated items.
According to the blog post, Is Video Conferencing a Good Substitute for Face-to-face Meetings, when air travel within European cities was curtailed due to volcanic ash, corporate houses and business owners resorted to video-conferencing technology for conducting events or seminars. Video conferencing provides all the convenience of physical meetings without the need for physical presence in a particular location, which is why it has gained so much popularity as an economic alternative to physical corporate events. The geographical freedom, increased productivity, and immense cost savings make virtual events an inevitable replacement for physical events.