(First published on whypay.net in 2014)
Are Conference Calls as Useful as Face-To-Face Meetings?
Conference calls are the rage right now and many organisations are opting for teleconferencing as their preferred technology for communicating with people who are located across the county, country or world. Through call conferencing, organisations can drastically cut down on their travel expenditure and time lost. In this day and age where everyone needs to keep their costs down, opting for conferencing services for communication is a smart way move.
There are many conferencing solutions available with conference call service providers. Users dial into a conference bridge using the number provided by the vendor to participate in the teleconference. The advantage of teleconferencing services is that you can use any ordinary telephone line to dial the number and join the call. In effect, you can be phone conferencing from anywhere in the world at any time.
But can voice conference calls completely replace face-to-face meetings? Or are they as effective? Perhaps not. Meetings and negotiations are all about people and how they communicate. In a face-to-face meeting you have much more information available to you in terms of body language, the subtle give and take, personality and demeanour. It is often non verbal clues rather than what is actively spoken that gives you an insight into what is really going on. Through conferencing you may be able to help accomplish many things, such as making sales presentations, training, moving a sales deal forward or sharing financial results. But the culmination of discussions over the call is most likely to a face-to-face meeting.
Then why consider call conferencing at all?
Conference calling has significant advantages even considering what you have to forego in terms of non-verbal communication. It can replace most of the initial meetings that are held to nail down crucial aspects of a project. The calls can bind a geographically separated team working on a single project and help promote the feeling of a single team working together. Most importantly, by conferencing you save a lot of time and money.
The situations where telephone conferencing can replace face-to-face meetings are when a person is being introduced to a team, making demo presentations and using the Internet to share important files and documents. Strategic planning and follow ups can also be done by teleconferencing. If everyone working on a project needs a quick routine update on the status, a quick teleconference is infinitely more preferable than face-to-face meetings.
Conference calls may never completely replace face-to-face meetings. For tough negotiations or other hard situations, a face-to-face meeting alone may help. But phone conferencing can easily replace routine update meetings or “feel good” visits.
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