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Can Virtual Conferencing Really Replace Face-to-Face Meetings?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - 11:45
Virtual Conferencing vs. Face-to-Face Meetings

With the ongoing advancements in virtual conferencing, the face-to-face meeting may have met its match. According to Market Research Media, the virtual event market will grow from $14 Billion in 2018 to $18 Billion in 2023. The number of virtual meetings and events taking place will rise as travel costs increase and travel budgets decrease. But as this trend continues, some may ask: 'Can virtual conferencing really replace face-to-face meetings?'

Improving Participants’ Level of Engagement

Conferencing & collaboration tools have significantly improved over the last few years, offering users an expanded toolset for communication and enhanced audio quality. Conferencing participants can take part in real-time polls, live chats and real-time Q&A sessions, etc. These enhanced features enable users to gain better understanding of analyzed data or discussion topics, and to develop new ideas or expand upon existing ones more quickly. At the end of the conference, the takeaways from virtual meetings can be acted upon immediately.

Virtual Conferencing Conveys Non-Verbal Cues

While face-to-face contact provides a full picture of the level of tension or ease in the physical environment surrounding the meeting-goers, virtual conferencing still allows for the majority of emotions and nonverbal cues to be conveyed. Facial expressions, eye contact, arm crossing, stature and dress are still transmitted between users and still communicate underlying emotions and reactions to the communication that’s transpiring between participants.

Developing More Personalized Relationships

Many of us have clients and vendors we interface with on a regular basis through email, chat, and the occasional phone call. But these kinds of communication methods can be very two-dimensional. Video and web conferencing really allows a personal connection to be made with the other participants. It allows you to attach a name with a face, and brings out other sides of the contributors personality. It’s easier to build a more solid relationship with a client or vendor when a deeper, more personal connection can be made and fostered.

Globalization Requires Virtual Workgroups

A multitude of international companies and organizations now call for virtual workgroups - comprised of experts from many different locations - to meet “face-to-face” for important discussions, and to make timely decisions. For instance, hospitals across the nation and globe regularly confer with one another on patient diagnoses and recommended treatments. The only realistic and time-efficient way to accomplish these tasks is through virtual conferencing.

Virtual Conferencing Helps save the Environment…and Time!

For employees and companies that are looking for a measurable way to calculate the costs of carrying out face-to-face business engagements, West offers a Carbon Footprint Calculator. This tool helps users to discover the costs of business travel and the way it can impact the environment. One calculated example for an employee that travels back and forth between Detroit, MI and Minneapolis, MN twice a month showed the following results when replaced with virtual conferencing:

  • Total miles saved: 1,106 Miles

  • Total time saved each month on flights alone: More than 7 hours (which does not include arriving at the airport early for your flight, or transit time to and from the airport)

  • Total CO2 Reduction (LBS): 201 which is equal to planting 1 tree to offset the potential CO2 emissions generated through regular travel

In addition, communicating via an online meeting ensures that you will have all the documents you need with you, with no worry that you forgot to transfer files to a thumb drive or other portable device before you left for your flight. Gaining back travel time and losing the hassle of security and flight delays that can come with business travel are huge positives as well.

West’s video and virtual conferencing solutions can empower your business to nurture customer and vendor relationships, rev-up sales teams, showcase products and more! With the service quality and feature set your enterprise needs to create virtual face-to-face interactions with stakeholders both outside and inside the organization, virtual conferencing can enhance the level of communication taking place without adding the time and expense involved with travel.

Virtual conferencing can be used to:

  • Make eye contact and provide personal engagement for important conversations

  • Rally the sales team

  • Conduct training sessions for employees and partners

  • Communicate critical company-wide announcements

  • Create an inviting atmosphere for engaging with potential new talent

West’s Virtual Conferencing Feature Set provides Complete Functionality

With web conferencing tools like West’s InterCall Unified Meeting 5, companies have everything they need for a productive meeting, at their fingertips, including:

  • A comprehensive web-based meeting management platform

  • Screen sharing to present documents, presentations, applications

  • HD video from multiple locations and enhanced audio with Dolby Voice

  • Collaboration features like chat, polls, waiting rooms and breakout rooms

  • Annotation features to highlight elements of documents and presentations

  • Recording tools to archive audio, video and slides

  • The technical platform and capabilities required for a rich user experience through virtually any internet connection and carrier, and in high-definition

While virtual conferencing might not be able to replace the relationship-building that takes place during after-hours dinners and drinks, it has reached a level that is comparable to onsite meetings. And as travel budgets continue to diminish while travel concerns escalate, virtual conferencing can resolve these concerns and replace many face-to-face meeting scenarios.


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