Remove the peripheral to get to the real.

Jenny Brown-Zikic


Last week I went out to dinner with some friends for the first time in eight weeks. After an extended hiatus, the anticipation was high, and I wasn’t disappointed. Meeting face to face rather than through Zoom brought a totally different quality to the experience. 

What was that about?

Pre-Covid, face-to-face meetings were the default option for many, and they were (often rightly) cited as time-sucks and necessary evils. In their book Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier-Hansson were blunt: “Meetings are toxic’.

Yet, there’s something positively different about in-person time. What is it about meeting face-to-face that can’t be replaced by Zoom or MS Teams? What does a 3D experience bring that a 2D one can’t? Why would we meet face to face when it’s way more efficient to just set up something online?

My take? It’s about giving us a richer experience of what we yearn for as human beings:

  1. Belonging: Our deep need for a real connection with others
  2. Bringing: Our desire to bring value to the world. To make a difference 
  3. Becoming: Our hunger to learn and grow through a rich exchange of ideas

Experience tells me that in-person time enhances all three of these.

I wonder now whether we’ll value in-person meetings differently? I’m now putting a premium on my time as never before, and face-to-face meetings have to be worth it. Here are my criteria for why I’d choose to meet face-to-face over going virtual:

  1. To build a relationship
  2. To get to what’s real
  3. To generate more and better ideas

If the purpose is more transactional than that e.g. to share information, or to make a quick decision, I’m more likely to find another way of making that happen.

On our What’s On Your Mind podcast, Alicia McKay and I have mused about what value we’ll put on face-to-face meetings now.  Whether we’ll make meetings more about leveraging the power of face-to-face human connection, and less about a list of agenda items to get through. Making a meeting actually ‘a meeting’. More focus on quality, less on quantity.

Now we’re out of lockdown, what might you do to make your meetings more valuable, more about what people really want, and more real?


Photo: Pexels, Thibault Trillet

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