New Business Face-to-Face or Virtual?

Study reveals execs prefer face-to-face
by Todd Knutson

face to face

According to a recent Forbes Insights study, business executives prefer face-to-face meetings and conferences over virtual meetings, and overwhelmingly agree that they're necessary to build deeper, more profitable bonds with business partners. While web-, video- and teleconferencing have their role, it takes human interaction to accomplish certain business objectives.

Some new business people will readily accept a conference call in lieu of an in-person meeting. This survey of 760 business executives may give you added incentive to secure that in-person meeting whenever possible.

Survey highlights:

59% of executives say they will use virtual meetings (teleconferences, video or web conferences), and stated that their use has increased in the recession due to their lower cost and reliability.

However, 84% of executives said they prefer face-to-face over virtual meetings.

Those that prefer face-to-face meetings believe they facilitate:

  • Building stronger, more meaningful relationships (85%),
  • The ability to “read”another person (77%), and
  • Greater social interaction (75%). 

Those who favored virtual meetings took a bottom-line approach, saying they:

  • Saved them time (92%),
  • Saved them money (88%), or 
  • Offered greater location flexibility (76%).

Executives prefer face-to-face meetings when give-and-take is required. They prefer virtual meetings when disseminating data, or when time is a concern. Notice that the former is perfect for the agency-hiring process, but the latter is certainly not.

Many executives expressed concern that attendees did not give their full attention to virtual meetings.

  • 58% admitted that they “frequently” surf the web, check their email, read unrelated materials and do other work during virtual meetings.
  • 64% of those who prefer virtual meetings like them because they allow them to multitask (i.e. they're not paying attention to you). 

87% agree that there are tangible business benefits to in-person, face-to-face meetings that outweigh the cost savings of alternative, technology-based meetings.

Executives also believe that face-to-face communication:

  • Is necessary for effective teamwork (80%),
  • Builds stronger bonds (81%).

It may be "old school" to prefer face-to-face meetings, but as this study indicates, they're important and effective, so keep them coming!

If you'd like to request a copy of the study, click here. Forbes Insights is the custom research arm of Forbes Media, publisher of Forbes magazine and Forbes.com.

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