Over the past year, many companies out of necessity pivoted to virtual meetings, conferences and events in an effort keep the event instead of cancel it. While virtual and now that we are slowly beginning to meet again, hybrid events, have become increasingly popular, something is lost when we meet virtually instead of face-to-face, human connection.
Studies indicate that the most effective and valued method for adults to learn something is by doing. As such, it is especially true that if a meeting or conference has a learning component, face-to-face is preferable to virtual. With a face-to-face meeting, participants have the opportunity to touch, hear and engage. Without that, the connection is lost. Also, in a virtual environment, participants aren’t meeting people; they’re not interacting or broadening their overall experience. When there’s interaction, participants can help one another, while also networking with potential vendors and suppliers. Face-to-face allows for managing connections in the moment.
Virtual meetings allow participants the ability to multi-task, so that they can, for example, listen on one screen while working on a spreadsheet, email or document on another screen. It’s a time saver, eliminating the need for lengthy and expensive travel. That said, its difficult to learn while multi-tasking even if you are an expert multi-tasker and, while most virtual meetings provide break-outs, let's face it, the networking experience is not the same as in-person because it lacks the human connection. However, this is the preferred format by younger generations. They want tech and often prefer to remain anonymous. So, if you must, the best way to use it would be a hybrid format to enhance the meeting for those that are not able to attend in-person. With a hybrid platform, at the very least, the virtual attendees still have a way to ask questions and be engaged and those attendees that prefer to learn and network in-person can do so.
The value of a face-to-face meeting just can’t be beat. However, hybrid meetings extend your audience out further, offering you the opportunity for additional growth. These types of meetings will attract people who wouldn’t normally attend a face-to-face meeting, and exposes them to your message. But, just remember, at the end of the day, a meeting that requires interaction, along with networking and one-on-one contact, is best done face-to-face.