Track This: The number and quality of face to face meetings you have with people.

Meetings offer opportunities to get belly to belly with people that matter to you. Getting face to face with your customers, partners and your team is certainly better in cases where you want to increase connection, meaning and value. If culture and performance matters to your organization, you need to consider these elements when deciding when, where, why and how often to have meetings.

Belly to belly meetings allow you to do many things including:

  • Build/reinforce rapport
  • Connect and form genuine relationships beyond tasks and agenda items
  • Show respect, regard to valued parties
  • Create an omni-dimensional opportunity to collaborate and make decisions
  • Read body language and other nonverbal communications

If you don’t need these things and an email will suffice, then by all means don’t abuse this tool. However, when you’re measuring what matters in meetings, be sure to account for all of the blessings of getting face to face.

All the technology out there is great but it is also an abstract proxy of a real relationship or connection for the parties involved. Hence, the reason we see so many remote workers being called back into the office.

Technology creates abstraction, distance, disconnection and increased likelihood of insincerity. According to multiple studies, all the wonderful technological terrors we’ve created (video conferencing, social media and so on) actually increase the disconnect and devaluing of people and relationships. For example, people are more likely to be deceptive over video conference than they are face to face because to some extent, the mind sees the person on the screen as an abstraction; that is, more of a cartoon than a human being. I say all this as a technologist. These abstractions continue as things get more digitized, like on social media. People get depressed with pseudo-relationships. They want the satisfaction of a real connection.

Darth Vader put it best, “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.”

All the technology is great and amazing, but compared to the Force of real connection and getting face to face, it is insignificant. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. But I am also pragmatic and practical, and I recognize where it serves and where it doesn’t. Don’t let the tech tools replace all your meetings. Recognize and measure what you get from getting belly to belly. Make strategic considerations for all of the benefits of getting face to face vs. phoning it in. This goes beyond achieving the items on the agenda.

Meetings Won’t Help Those Who Don’t Meet to Create Value

Many people try to avoid meetings. I believe this is because they go in without any intent to create value and fail to account for the value created beyond the agenda items. Then they proceed to victimize themselves by thinking the meeting was a waste of time. If rapport, relationships, community and connection building are a waste of time, dollars to donuts your company culture is struggling.

Would you want your congressional representatives to phone it in to a session, or fight on the floor in a rigorous debate? Which do you believe is more effective?

How about your lawyer? When it’s time to put up a defense or resolve a conflict, do you think a skype or hangout session will do?

When you need to inspire your team to perform, to show them that you care and that you are in fact leading, is an email or conference call the appropriate representation and embodiment of your commitment?  STEP IT UP.

My point is, when it matters, people show up. People have face to face meetings. The corollary is also true, many meetings that don’t matter or are unimportant take lesser forms. There are endless useless conference calls and committee sessions that take on a variety of forms. That’s fine, just be honest with yourself and your team about what you expect to get from your meetings. Measure the results and decide what is best for you and your team.