There is a lot of talk these days about how people should be doing more conference calling to save money. We all know, however, that there are some things you just can't do or information you just can't get in a conference call that you can in a face-to-face meeting. Below are some considerations to think about when deciding on whether you really need a face-to-face or whether a conference call or videoconference will do.
- Consider the purpose of getting these people together and what you hope to achieve.
- Examine all your communication options and whether a conference call is the best way to get what you need to have a successful meeting. Maybe what needs to be done can just be done by email or in an email chat room? Ask yourself, does it really need a fully facilitated meeting? Does the meeting goal depend on observing body language or high levels of personal interaction, trust, and relationship building?
- How many people will be involved? Remember that if you have 12 people involved, each person only has, on average, 5 minutes to speak. Don't engage people if they are not going to participate.
- How highly dependent is the content on visual images that you need to walk your participants through. Will it be detrimental if they can't see what is going on?
- If you have a highly distributed group you are getting together, what will be the effect of different time zones on people being able to be there and alert. This is an increasingly more important consideration as more businesses go global.
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can then determine whether it is a plain vanilla teleconferencing that is needed, or a video conference, or a real face-to-face meeting.