Digital meetings are crap! Right?
Updated: Jul 18, 2022
I keep hearing people stating that digital meetings are crap, that they don't manage to do business through a video screen, and that they want to get back to the way things were before covid.
Really? Are you sure?
I'll share a short personal story; in May 2020, in the midst of the first pandemic wave, Naveed Syed and I decided to leave corporate life and start our own international advisory company. I'm based in Oslo, Norway, Naveed is based in Klagenfurt, Austria. In fact, at that time, we had not actually met face-to-face since May 2019. For the first 12 months, we onboarded 6 clients, 5 partners, and 12 affiliated advisors. Our daily business interactions typically span across Norway, Sweden, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, France, Spain, UAE, Pakistan, +++. It goes without saying, but of course this is almost all digital. Yes, we will be happy to be able to meet people face-to-face. Most of all I'm looking forward to meeting my business partner again, after more than two years of digital-only. However, keeping the majority of our interactions digital is the only way we can do international business in the future, both for the sake of costs, sustainability, and efficiency.
Let me give you my perspective on the future of digital meetings.
Digital meetings require a change in how we do meetings. It's like the first years of digitalization; if one could just get the paper form into a digital version, the problem would be solved. Now we know better; digitalization implies rethinking the entire process. This also goes for digital meetings, and we are still at a very immature stage.
Humans have the ability to observe both visually (we see the other person), auditive (we hear the other person), and kinesthetic (we feel the other person). In general, the visual component is predominant, which has been further enhanced by the recent years' development of smartphones. When interacting digitally, we need to re-discover our ability to interpret voice. Not just the words, but all the other signals that come with the voice, such as stress, anger, happiness, enthusiasm, curiosity etc. It's all there, we just need to re-learn how to observe it.
The climate is under pressure, the world is afraid of the next wave of pandemic, and the world is increasingly international in its search for talent and solutions. The only way to align with all these three factors is to embrace digital interaction.
Digital meetings are here to stay. If you want to be part of business moving forward, you will have to adapt. I work with a lof of tech startups, and they tend to have a completely different attitude towards physical location. Basically, they don't really care that much about where you are, as long as you have the capabilities they need.
I think it's time we stop participating in the "digital meetings are crap" echo chamber. They are not perfect, neither are physical meetings. But they are most definitely a significant part of the future. So let's rather build the skills and capabilities to make the absolute most of them.
I'm sure you have opinions on this topic. Let's e-meet and share perspectives :-)