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The Zoom-Boom: Is It Time to Embrace In-Person Meetings Again?



Let me start with a resounding “YES” here. 

In 2020 and for what felt like a lifetime that followed, business as we know it ventured into unprecedented waters and we were all forced to find ways to adapt in order to survive. 

Keeping our businesses afloat meant staying connected. But with the world masked up and barricaded behind plastic dividers and closed doors - we weren’t left with many options. 

Enter the tech giants, with their user-friendly platforms and apps and just like that: we were once again logged into our lives. No, it wasn’t business as usual, but hey, it was a start! And after a period of floundering in the chaos, collectively wondering how we would all navigate the unknown, a solution in any form was more then welcome. 

Were these platforms new concepts? No. But - never before had they represented more than just a “supplementory” option for connection. Before the you-know-what hit the fan, platforms like Zoom represented a way to bridge the long-distance gap, connect students in online schooling across different time zones, and so on. Yes, the business world was making use of these time-saving and meeting-facilitating options - but no, it was not yet the global standard it’s become today. 

Flash-forward to present-day and - not to jinx it - but the world has started to settle into a post-pandemic groove. And while some things may never fully revert to the way they were before, it’s safe to say most of us are eager to reestablish some sense or normalcy. In the business world, however, it seems some habits die hard - and man oh man, did we ever get into the habit of setting up Zoom meetings in place of in-person ones. 

And I’ll be the first to say - love it or hate it, you can deny the benefits of Zoom’ing. It saves time getting to and from meeting locations, it allows people to prepare presentations that can be shared and edited as-you-go via screen sharing, allows for meeting recordings as a way to easily keep meeting minutes, and so much more. 

Online trust-review platform TrustRadius ranks Zoom as a top rated online resource, describing it as: 

“...a unified communications platform primarily known for its use as a web conferencing tool. It features HD video and audio, collaboration tools, chat functionality, and an enterprise cloud phone system.” 

Reviews on TrustRadius have Zoom scored at an impressive 8.4 out of 10, based off of over 5,000 reviews. Using representative samples from these reviews, it’s clear that the Zoom platform reflects a high level of user trust and satisfaction, with some key insights from the website being “would buy again”, “implementation went as expected” and “lived up to sales and marketing promises”. 

So clearly, as many reviewers noted, the product lives up to the hype. User-friendly and with very few limitations of drawbacks in use outside of the obvious security concerns that come with every virtual meeting platform, Zoom continues to reign supreme in its bracket. 

But as we move forward and leave the majority of pandemic protocols in the past, is it time to get back to more in-person meetings? My opinion: YES, absolutely. In spite of the fact that virtual meeting platforms allow me to take on more in my daily calendar, I still prefer to actually sit down with people and interact in-person wherever possible. 

An article on Indeed helps to make my point here, specifically noting several benefits of in-person meetings, including: 

  • Interpreting nonverbal cues 
  • Coming up with ideas
  • Leaving less room for technology issues
  • Building new relationships 
  • More easily addressing sensitive issues
  • Limiting distractions
  • An increased sense of engagement and participation

There’s no denying it, there’s definitely an energy exchange that happens in-person that just doesn’t translate through a computer screen. It’s hard to explain except to say that no matter how advanced the technology, you just can’t replace the human component. 

Here are a few tips to consider to keep your face-to-face meetings on track and productive:

Stick to the 4 p’s of productive meetings: purpose, planning, preparation and participation.

  1. Purpose - Ensure there is a clear purpose and intention to the meeting ahead of time and that all participants are aware of what that is. This allows everyone to come to the table with the same general intention and direction in mind. 
  2. Planning - In planning ahead and sending out an agenda ahead of time, meetings are able to flow more efficiently and participants can get more done on the spot with less need for circling back at a later date owing to any missing or outstanding components. 
  3. Preparation - The preparation component of any meeting involves reviewing your agenda and any relevant documents, details and points of discussion prior to the meeting itself. This allows participants to give thoughtful consideration to what they plan to contribute to the meeting and prepare any questions and commentary they may have.
  4. Participation - Make the time count. Minimize any distractions and be present in the moment. Showing a commitment to being attentive and engaged during the time carved out for this meeting is a show of respect and enthusiasm to the task at hand and will go a long way to support positive collaboration amongst yourself and meeting participants. 

So as you schedule out your next meeting - consider making it an in-person one and seeing how the collaborative experience and communication exchange is impacted by taking things offline and into real-life!

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