When is a Virtual Meeting appropriate?
Virtual meetings, or meetings that are held via the Internet, aren't appropriate for all meetings. A traditional meeting is more appropriate in some instances in order to ensure that the meeting style represents your company's beliefs and values. It is necessary to determine if a virtual meeting is appropriate is necessary
Never the first time
Generally, if meeting a client for the first time, a virtual meeting is not an appropriate option. Initial meetings need to be in person so that a solid relationship can be formed between you and the client. There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule. The client may request to initiate the relationship with a virtual meeting, especially if the meeting takes place immediately.
In those cases, first impressions still count considerably. But, be prepared for clients will prefer to keep all meetings in person. You should never set up a virtual meeting with this type of client, doing so will void all of your efforts to build a business relationship.
Is it the most effective option
Some presentations simply aren't effectively via a virtual server. Demonstrations of intricate processes or a showcase of equipment have detailed product usage and are best left to the traditional in person meeting style.
It is safe to assume that only spoken instructions and lecture type presentations are well suited to the virtual meeting style. One exception is when the information presented is difficult to explain or comprehend. Situations like this usually require person-to-person meetings that allow participants to ask questions and get detailed answers.
Generally, virtual meetings should only take place if the participants are farther than 100 miles from the meeting location or if there is no free space available in which to hold the meeting. This includes companies that have has only one branch but, employees located over a large area. Companies that contract employees or staff telecommuting employees, can also benefit from virtual meetings.
Cost vs. Benefits
Before you decide between a virtual meeting and a traditional meeting, you need to put the costs on paper. Figure out the total cost of both types of meetings. Don't forget to figure in decreased productivity while employees travel to a traditional meeting. The cost of purchasing virtual meeting programs and equipment may total more than the expenses associated with a traditional meeting. This is especially true if you hold just a handful of meetings every year.
Size and length matter when it comes to virtual meetings
Ideally, a virtual meeting should include no more than six to twelve participants. Having more leads to unfocused and unorganized meetings. If you have more than 12 participants, consider holding multiple presentations to enable you to keep the virtual meeting participants within the optimal range.
As for length, a virtual meeting should last no longer than two hours. Schedule an hour-long break after each two hours of presentations, if you expect the material to take longer than that to cover. You might also consider holding one to two meeting sessions per day on consecutive days until all the material is covered.
The urgency factor
A virtual meeting can be organized on short notice, unless there are items or props needed to effectively present the information during the meeting. However, for meetings that need only access to the virtual meeting site and documents, urgency is no obstacle. Simply email or fax copies of the documents needed during
A virtual meeting may not be a good option, if your company deals with sensitive information. Just as any other information exchanged via the Internet, data transmitted during a virtual meeting can fall into dishonest hands. Thus, time sensitive materials are best when presented in person-to-person meeting.
Some virtual meeting programs and hosting companies use top-notch security. Although you use these programs or companies, you should still be very careful about the information that is distributed during the meeting. Take care to secure your own data in addition to the hosting company's software and equipment. This includes sending confidential information via fax or regular mail. Some companies select code names and words for secret projects, while others only discuss public information during the virtual meeting. Whatever method you choose should fit you company and its clients.
Appropriate use of the virtual meeting does have its benefits. Virtual meetings are an effective way to convey information, but they are not so effective in every type of meeting. The same goes for the company and the client. Virtual meetings, although a novel idea, are not the proper choice for all. Perform careful consideration and research before you decide to equip your company for virtual meetings. Used improperly, they can impair the effectiveness of your meetings, amounting to a waste of time and money.