During these unprecedented times of strict quarantine and worldwide pandemic, online communication became the centrepiece of education and business operations. Meetings play a vital role in all these processes, which is why it is important to discuss the pros and cons of online meetings in contrast with the face-to-face version. Virtual format evidently offers a number of advantages over the traditional one, and it is currently highly sophisticated due to the advancements in technology. However, one should note that although online meetings can be plausible for quick and small business meet-ups, presentations, or lectures, it cannot replace interaction intensive meetings with an emphasis on non-verbal communication.
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Online meetings can be equivalent or even superior to face-to-face ones on the basis of purpose and type of meetings. For example, during my own internships programs, I remember that the majority of meetings at the company were mostly quick business meet-ups or short announcements. I always considered them inefficient because the managers used a face-to-face format, where the virtual format would have been faster and informative.
Therefore, any form of project or work-related announcements or updates on the current progression is usually better in an online format, because the participants do not have to arrive at a specific location, which creates delays. Therefore, the basic informative purpose of the meeting makes the online version more appealing. However, there are meetings which require the active exchange of ideas and communication, including non-verbal. For example, it is evident that counselling meetings with the purpose of interaction cannot be conducted online in an effective manner. Such cases require face-to-face sessions, where both counsellor and client can build the correct and therapeutic environment in order to identify and solve underlying problems.
Participants and their role in the meeting are also important because they determine whether or not online format is feasible. The overall involvement level of participants can be the critical factor which makes one option better than another. The first type of meetings revolves around one person or group speaking to a larger and passive group of participants, whose role is to listen and absorb the information. For example, a lecture, where a professor is explaining a certain topic to a group of students, can be effectively conducted online. The main reason is that students act as passive participants, whose purpose is to be a receiver of information.
However, some meetings are based on the active interaction and exchange of ideas from the participants. The most evident example is a leisure-based meeting, such as birthday celebrations. In this type of context, non-verbal communication is as important as a verbal one, and thus, the virtual format cannot be useful in conveying the vital emotions and subtle messages. Similarly, the group counselling session needs face-to-face interaction because participants are required to be actively involved. The lack of engagement will inevitably result in failure, which means that the desired behavioural modification will not be achieved.
In conclusion, online meetings offer a wide range of advantages and even can be considered as a better alternative to face-to-face meet-ups. Any form of business announcement, project update, or educational lecture can be effectively conducted through virtual format without any downfalls. The main reason is that information goes from one element towards others, and participants are not required to be actively engaged. However, counselling sessions and entertainment-based meetings, where non-verbal communication is critical, cannot be replaced by an online version.