Face-to-face vs. virtual meetings – Save precious time!
My biggest accomplishment this past week was cutting the time spent for in-person meetings by 50% – This means I saved 6 hours of my time that I could dedicate to my business and to myself.
If your job requires face-to-face meetings then you have to keep doing it. On the other hand, if you can avoid driving (or even flying) to a meeting just to share updates on a project, review small details, or when you attend committee meetings, then you can easily communicate with your clients, team members or vendors by using digital meeting tools.
Before I go into detail with this topic, you should make sure you never suggest a virtual meeting when you are meeting a prospective client (if he / she is local) because nothing will ever replace the trust and connection that you create face to face. Also, the fact that you took the time to go meet your prospective client shows that you really care and they will remember that.
Another reason to meet in person could be when you need to attend a menu tasting or select fabrics for specialty linens, for example.
Besides working with social clients and wedding couples, I organize several non-profits events and I volunteer on the boards of those organizations. Some of these organizations require members’ attendance at their monthly meetings, while others are more flexible. The first meeting is in person so that we can all get to know each other, get engaged, and come up with an action plan and strategies that will benefit the organization at the event. The next meetings are virtual so that each of us can just participate from the comfort of their homes or offices or studios. This saves time that would be otherwise used for getting ready / dressing up, driving and finding a parking space (or even flying and renting a car), maybe waiting until all the participants are present at the meeting. Once the meeting is done, we can just return to our regular work at our computer without having to drive back to our office / studio or home (or fly back). That’s precious time that you save and you can use for other tasks in your day – or better yet, you can dedicate to yourself! And, virtual meetings are also cost-effective (gas, parking fees, plane tickets, car rentals, etc.)
A lot of people complain about technology, they say it’s ruining our lives. I think this is the opposite: technology makes our lives easier – when used in a smart way, of course. So, why not take advantage of technology to bring us closer?
There are different solutions when it comes to virtual meetings. I am regularly using many of them depending on my clients’ or participants’ familiarity with these tools. If you are scheduling a virtual meeting with your planning team feel free to use whichever tool works best for your purposes; if you are scheduling a virtual meeting with a client, always ask what works best for them. And if they say, “Let’s just chat on the phone” it will be OK too 🙂
Here are some great tools that you can use:
- FaceTime – This is an IOS-only app that allows you to schedule video calls between two Macs or to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.
- Skype – This has been my number one software for video calls for years, and it’s still the favorite among most of my couples. You can also use their screen sharing option, instant messaging, and free calls anywhere in the world.
- Google Hangouts – Another very useful alternative for group meetings. I had a couple a few years ago living in two different cities and with Google Hangout we could be online all together at the same time.
- Zoom – Zoom brings together cloud video conferencing, online meetings, group messaging, and a software-defined conference room solution into one easy-to-use platform. The free version gives you up to 50 minutes for virtual meetings; the paid version offers more features.
- Appear.in – A great video collaboration tool for up to 8 people simultaneously (or 12 with the paid version). You can create a room, and even register to own and customize your own video room-links. You can easily share your screen to show presentations, photos or spreadsheets.
Technology can also come to the rescue for face-to-face meetings. Most of my clients live out of state so I often connect with them online. When they come to San Diego for scouting trips or to finalize all the details with venue and vendors I accompany them on those meetings, unless… they cannot come for some last-minute change of plans. Yes, it happened to a bride of mine. She was supposed to fly in from Chicago and her work schedule changed but we needed to decide the areas at the hotel for her wedding, and we also had to discuss menu options and her color palette as soon as possible (we were approaching the 3-month mark before the wedding date). Thanks to technology we were able to solve the problem: I went to the venue and met with the catering manager who took me around the property while I FaceTime’d the bride. We selected the areas for ceremony, cocktail area and reception, looked at linen swatches, and went down the menu to pick the right choices. My bride was extremely pleased with my efficiency and the catering manager’s availability, and in one hour we accomplished a lot of things!
~~~ TAKE ACTION ~~~ Try to take some time back next week and replace some of your in-person meetings with virtual meetings whenever possible. Our clients might like having the choice of connecting with you from their office or wherever they are, they will save precious time too!
~~~ LEAVE A COMMENT ~~~ What are your best time-saving tips when it comes to meetings?
Holistic Precision Life Coach, Brain Wellness Coach, and Life-Work Balance Strategist for busy professionals. I blend well-being principles with epigenetics, neuroscience, positive psychology, and mindfulness techniques to implement effective behavior changes.