More and more meetings today take place electronically rather than in person. There are many platforms that make this simple, such as Skype, Google Hangouts and many types of web conferencing software. There are both advantages and disadvantages to holding meetings in this manner. It’s useful to consider both before making a decision on whether to hold meetings the traditional way or electronically.
Benefits of Electronic Meetings
There are certainly advantages to digital meetings or they wouldn’t be so popular. Here are the most notable ones.
- They allow people to communicate across long distances. This is probably the most obvious advantage of electronic meetings. It’s now possible to hold a meeting with people in other cities, countries or even continents. This makes it possible to connect with people who could not attend an event in person.
- High quality technology provides many useful features. With today’s technology, participants can get close-ups of one another and hear each other clearly. They can also share digital material such as slides, photos and screenshots with each other. Features such as voting and file downloading are also available.
- Environmentally friendly. Another big plus to holding meetings digitally is that it has much less impact on the environment. People don’t always consider how many resources are consumed in the course of everyday life. A business conference or meeting, for example, often requires participants to travel great distances. This uses up lots of fuel, whether they drive or fly.
- Lower costs. The cost of holding an electronic meeting is only a fraction of what it costs to hold a live meeting. There are many free platforms for communicating online. Even if high-quality conferencing software is used, however, this is cheaper than renting a venue and setting up a live event. For people who would otherwise have to travel to the meeting, there are substantial savings in travel costs.
- Saves time. Electronic meetings save time as well as money. Instead of having to travel to the meeting place, participants only have to turn on their devices. If people live in the same city, this can still save a couple of hours in commuting time. If people live in distant locations, it can save many hours or even days of traveling time.
These are the main pros of electronic meetings. Now let’s look at some of the cons.
Disadvantages of Digital Gathering
- Technological glitches. Anyone who has ever participated in a conference call, digital meeting or webinar knows that even the best technology has glitches. This can be due to a power outage or a software glitch. This can cause people to miss important information. If it’s a serious problem, it can disrupt the entire meeting or event. Technological problems can also occur at live events, but there at least people can find alternatives and find a way to talk to each other.
- Lack of face-to-face contact. Even the best quality audio and video technology is still not the same as meeting people in person. There’s a lack of intimacy and a more detached quality to the event. This can make it harder to detect subtleties that are more noticeable when people are interacting live. It can also make it less interesting.
- Time zones can present difficulties. If participants live in different time zones, it can be hard to set up a time that’s convenient for everyone. The further away from each other people live, the more this becomes an issue. On the other hand, people who live in distant time zones might not be able to attend a live event at all, so this inconvenience is sometimes only a minor obstacle.
- Less opportunity for informal interaction. One of the facts about meetings and live events is that there are informal interactions before and after the meeting itself. These can sometimes be at least as fruitful as the actual meeting. It gives the opportunity for networking, meeting new people and better understanding the other participants. In an electronic meeting, people are mostly limited to interacting during the event itself. There may be some casual interactions before and after, but this is far more limited than in person.
What’s the Verdict?
There are quite a few pros as well as cons for electronic meetings. Whether they are the right choice or not depends on a variety of factors. In some instances, it may be simpler and more effective to hold a traditional, in-person meeting. On the other hand, digital technology makes it possible to hold meetings that could not occur any other way. Here are some recommendations for when electronic meetings are the sensible choice.
- When participants live far away from one another, electronic meetings are more convenient and cheaper. If participants live in the same city or even within 100 miles of each other, however, it might be better to arrange a live meeting.
- Digital events such as webinars allow not just the presenters but thousands of viewers from around the world to attend. Many of these attendees would not be able to attend a live event in a distant location.
- An electronic event using free or low-cost platforms is an option when there is no budget to hold a live event like in Lovesita .
When businesses or other organizations plan events, they should look carefully at all of the variables to decide whether or not an electronic meeting is the best solution. There are quite a few benefits to holding meetings in a digital format. Indeed, this is sometimes the only practical way to communicate across long distances. Yet all of the pros and cons should be considered before deciding on whether this is the best choice.
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