Last week SCICU held its first in-person board meeting in two years, and it was a great success. Numerous board members shared with me how excited they were to see each other again. While virtual meetings may be convenient, I believe being physically together makes for a more productive and rewarding meeting. Let me give you three reasons why.
Number 1. There’s more interaction among the meeting participants. You may have heard that “Seventy percent of communication is non-verbal.” We rely on body language to reinforce our verbal communication and to better understand the meaning of others.
Body language is hard to pick up during a virtual meeting. And scanning the group for non-verbal feedback is all but impossible. When we’re sitting around a table we can express enthusiasm by leaning forward or sense concern of the others who lean back and look down.
Number 2. Participants are better focused on the agenda. How do you feel when you’re speaking during a virtual meeting and you see others glancing sideways, clearly working on something else on another screen, or looking down at their cell phones? And just what are people doing when their screens are turned off?
When everyone is sitting together, let’s call it “group accountability.” You’re more likely to be more considerate of those around you. And I’m just as guilty as the next person.
Number 3. There is a greater sense of shared purpose. When we’re isolated behind our computers we don’t have the same awareness of a connection to others and the organization as a whole. When you must make the effort to attend a meeting you’re demonstrating commitment to the larger cause and its shared values.
We’ve all found that maintaining an organizational culture is very difficult if people are not brought together. Being together creates an excitement, and part of that excitement is the unscripted moments. We’ve all experienced that some of the most valuable, and unexpected, parts of a meeting are the discussions during breaks. These spontaneous conversations often result in the best ideas.
Of course, there will always be a role for virtual meetings at SCICU and your own business or organization, but because it’s important to keep participants fully engaged, they should be balanced by in-person meetings.
Now, I’ve got to go. I’ve got a Zoom meeting in five minutes.