In today’s digital age, it’s never been easier to connect with people. With a phone, tablet, or laptop, everything you could ever need is at your fingertips. As the world was rocked by COVID-19, though, deflating every social and professional occasion down to a 40-minute call, the virtual world left something to be desired.
Now, almost 3 years on, HealthBid have seen a welcomed return to the office as well as, more recently, the offices of our clients. This month, we took off for an in-person workshop with one of our London-based clients and we couldn’t help but reflect on all the benefits of a face-to-face rather than a virtual discussion.
Forging Positive Relationships
Client meetings are rarely small, often including several people involved in the project, so there are a lot of first impressions to get right. Meeting in person can, and did, have a genuine impact on how people interact with one another, assisting in making the best impression. One reason for this is simply eye contact, something that doesn’t quite translate virtually. Research has shown that eye contact between a listener and a speaker can:
Another reason for the meeting being so genuinely enjoyable was that being face-to-face allows for purposeful small talk, a more personable touch that virtual meetings can’t replicate. We found this social aspect had everyone in visibly higher spirits, as well as leaving us feeling much less fatigued at the end of the day compared to an online session. Facilitating a positive experience of our services for our clients is a huge priority for HealthBid, so to see a return to in-person business go down so well was a fantastic.
Being in-person also means that alternative presentation tools can be more effectively utilised to accompany presentations, rather than distract from them, such as:
In London, this included the use of a whiteboard, collaborating with the client to visually illustrate the complex matters at hand. Feedback reflected that it was helpful both the client and to our team to have a visual reminder of these themes in front of us, rather than the virtual alternative of transferring focus to a document on our laptops. We saw that this tool encouraged more participation than a typical virtual meeting because of the in-person ability to anticipate when to speak up, without feeling as though you’re interrupting. This allowed for a much more open conversation, empowering anyone who needed clarification to raise a question much more comfortably, likely strengthening our output from the session.
Togetherness VS Technology
One of the most significant benefits of this face-to-face meeting was the lack of reliance on technology to facilitate the meeting. Its near unheard of to get through a virtual meeting without any issues with:
It was refreshing to be able to stride through our discussions without having to pause because someone’s internet gave up, repeat points because someone couldn’t hear, or turn off our cameras in the hopes it’d improve connection. Extinguishing these struggles that we’ve acclimatised to during COVID came with a sense of relief. There’s no doubt we got through more content, and in a much more enjoyable way, by being together in London.
Being one of our first face-to-face client interactions in the wake of COVID, we knew going into it that there would be much to learn; perhaps feedback would be that virtual meetings were the way to go even post-COVID? Maybe our clients and our staff would ultimately prefer the digital option? From this experience in London, we found this to be patently untrue. We will, of course, continue to deliver the same high-quality projects virtually. We understand that there may be logistical as well as personal reasons why a virtual meeting may be preferable, so the decision to carry out a meeting in-person will always be at the client’s discretion.
All things considered, being in-person allowed for a level of focus, as well as sociability, that have proved difficult to replicate virtually. Moving forward, we believe face-to-face meetings will rightly start to regain popularity, and you’ll definitely be seeing more of our faces at HealthBid.
Written by Alice Matthews, Bid Writer