Cutting-edge technology has transformed the way companies conduct meetings — as many have embraced expanding their meetings beyond the confines of one room to a global, virtual meeting setting. However, some companies are still on the fence as to whether virtual meetings can truly deliver.
For those who may still doubt the effectiveness of virtual meetings compared to face-to-face meetings, research suggests otherwise. A recent survey conducted by Meeting Professional Internationals found that meetings overall are expected to increase with virtual meetings growth at twice the rate of in-person meetings. Additionally, 68 percent of those surveyed indicated that they have an overall positive impression of virtual meetings.
Today on the blog, we dispel 5 common myths about virtual meetings and offer our insights, from a global meeting planner perspective.
5 Common “Myths” About Virtual Meeting
1. Myth: Cost savings aren’t worth the time.
Truth: Actually, the cost of a virtual meeting per user can be as low as 10% that of a face-to-face meeting making it the perfect choice for companies, especially those with limited budgets or those needing to disseminate timely protocol updates. At Miller Tanner, virtual meetings save our clients approximately 90% of the training budget associated with face-to-face meetings by eliminating logistics related to venues, travel, hotels, food & beverages, etc.
2. Myth: We don’t have enough time to turn the meeting around.
Truth: Turn-around times to deploy a virtual meeting may be a lot shorter than one might think. Although we, as planners, ask for 4 weeks to plan a virtual meeting as a courtesy to the attendee’s schedule, Miller Tanner has been able to turn meetings around in as little as 48 hours. Since there is no travel involved, we are able to send out invitations for registration and work with the study team on presentations to get the message out quickly and efficiently, one of the major benefits of planning virtual meetings versus planning face-to-face meetings.
3. Myth: Crucial information will not be received.
Truth: Companies are concerned that their key messages will not be received effectively, whether it be as a result of insufficiencies due to technical connections or attendee interaction. However, with the latest meeting platforms, attendees can not only hear the message of the presenters, but other virtual technologies can be utilized to ensure that a company’s message is clearly communicated. Questions to the presenters can be asked via audio and text for clarification. We can also provide reference documents for attendees to download during the meeting.
4. Myth: The attendee interaction with the presenters is limited.
Truth: With so much competing for our attention these days, there is hesitation among companies that attendee interactions during a virtual meeting may fall flat. However, we can easily set up in-session polling questions to increase attendee interaction and engagement. The presenters are able to quickly assess, in real time, the learners’ understanding of the information and make quick adjustments to the content to further elaborate on the message.
5. Myth: Special equipment is needed for presenters and attendees.
Truth: Many businesses hear the term “virtual” and automatically think it requires special state-of-the-art technology in order to participate. We have come a long way with technology. Presenters and attendees alike are able to join meetings via computer, smart phone and tablet with ear buds and microphones. Contrary to this myth, basic, widely-used technology is all that is generally required for running a successful virtual meeting.
Benefits of Virtual Meetings
As we’ve mentioned, there are numerous benefits to virtual meetings.
- Cost saving on budget as a result of no travel and hotel expenses
- More efficient with no time away from the office/home
- Ability to easily assess attendee knowledge in real time
- Global reach as virtual meetings can be offered in multiple locations at one time
- Turn around is quick because no travel is involved and attendees can be alerted electronically
- Flexibility to offer multiple time zones to one meeting or offering multiple dates for attendees to join. We have found that by allowing these options, attendees are very responsive to find the time on their calendar.
Our Seamless Process
Miller Tanner Associates works with our clients from start to finish. We work through the logistics of times and dates in each region around the globe and the best ways to include attendees. Invitations and follow up are provided to attendees; presenters are provided reports detailing who will be in attendance. We also teach the presenters how to use the system by hosting a rehearsal and allowing them to become comfortable with the meeting platform. Once in the meeting, we show attendees how to submit questions and provide technical support across the board for attendees and presenters. Finally, we provide the presenters post meeting reports that show the client who joined, when and for how long, as well as any questions that were submitted during the meeting and the responses to polling questions.
The world is adjusting to this new format of meetings. We have seen North America and Europe embracing these new virtual meeting capabilities and we see increased interest from the Latin America and Asia Pacific regions. This is ideal for updates to protocols and procedures that have changed since the face-to-face meeting took place.
Miller Tanner has seen our clients gravitate towards the virtual meeting format, not as a replacement to a face-to-face meeting, but as a way to help with those who may not be able to attend the face-to-face meeting as well as to provide updated information quickly. Even better, thanks to the cost and quick turn around, changes in important company protocols and other pertinent information can be shared as soon as they are available.