Virtual Meetings vs In Person Meetings: Pros & Cons

Companies have more options than ever when it comes to holding meetings. Virtual meetings via video conferencing have become commonplace, allowing for remote collaboration across vast distances. At the same time, traditional in-person meetings in physical office spaces remain popular for their ability to foster real face-to-face interaction. 

Both virtual and in-person meetings have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to productivity, engagement, and cost. This blog post breaks down the pros and cons of each to help you determine what meeting format works best for your business needs. 

Pros of Virtual Meetings 

Virtual meetings via platforms like Zoom, Skype, or GoToMeeting exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, when in-person gatherings were unsafe. However, even as offices reopen, virtual meetings are here to stay due to the many benefits they offer

1. Convenience of Virtual Meetings 

The biggest pro of virtual meetings is the unparalleled convenience. With video conferencing tools, teammates can meet up and collaborate from anywhere they have an internet connection. There is no commute required, making meetings accessible for remote employees, distributed teams, and people with limited mobility. Meeting attendees can save huge amounts of time not having to travel to an in-person meeting location. 

2. Lower Costs of Virtual Meetings 

Virtual meetings eliminate many of the costs associated with in-person gatherings: 

No travel expenses: Employees do not accrue costs for flights, mileage reimbursement, rental cars, taxis, or public transport to get to the meeting. 

No venue rental fees: While an in-person meeting requires paying for meeting room or conference hall rentals, virtual meetings only necessitate an affordable subscription to a video conferencing platform. 

Scalability: There is no limit to the number of attendees you can have in a virtual meeting. You can scale up to accommodate large groups without any incremental costs. In contrast, in-person meeting capacity is constrained by venue space. 

3. Flexibility of Virtual Meetings 

Scheduling virtual meetings can be much more flexible than coordinating everyone’s availability for in-person meetings constrained by geography and travel plans. With video conferencing, you can easily: 

Schedule shorter meetings as needed instead of grouping long sessions back-to-back to make travel worthwhile 

Accommodate team members across different time zones 

Let people join remotely even if they're on the go and cannot make it to an office location 

Record meetings to revisit discussions with absent team members 

Cons of Virtual Meetings 

However, despite these advantages, virtual meetings also have some downsides to consider: 

1. Technical Difficulties of Virtual Meetings 

The technology involved in virtual meetings always brings the risk of technical glitches like: 

Audio/video connectivity issues 

Degraded streaming 

Platform crashes 

Troubleshooting problems ends up eating into meeting time. There is also a learning curve involved for those not tech-savvy to access and operate virtual meeting platforms effectively. 

2. Lack of In-Person Interaction of Virtual Meetings 

The most significant con of virtual meetings is the lack of face-to-face human interaction. Non-verbal communication like body language and eye contact gets lost across a video screen. Side conversations and social interactions don’t happen naturally. This can limit relationship building between colleagues and make it harder for meetings to feel productive and engaging. 

3. More Distractions of Virtual Meetings 

It is easier for people’s attention to drift in a virtual meeting if they can mute themselves and turn off their camera. Multitasking temptations also abound when participants are sitting in their normal work environment rather than a meeting room. That can degrade participation, understanding, and implementation of action items after a virtual session. 

4. Zoom Fatigue of Virtual Meetings 

Staring at a screen for back-to-back virtual meetings can induce fatigue. As human beings, our brains find prolonged video interactions more intense than in-person discussions. Over time, virtual meeting burnout can decrease team morale and productivity. 

Pros of In-Person Meetings 

Here are some of the major advantages of old-fashioned, in-person meetings: 

1. Face-to-Face Engagement of In-Person Meetings 

In-person meetings allow for the most organic conversations and collaboration. Reading facial expressions and body language comes instinctively during face-to-face discussions, clarifying communication. Side conversations enable bonding with colleagues. Overall, in-person meetings feel more dynamic and engaged. 

2. Fewer Distractions of In-Person Meetings 

When participants assemble in a meeting room, they are less likely to multi-task or get interrupted compared to sitting in their regular work environment. In a physical space designated for meeting focus, attendees give the discussion their full attention and avoid drifting off. 

3. Professionalism of In-Person Meetings 

Meeting in an office conference room or rented venue lends a greater sense of occasion and professionalism compared to talking through a computer screen. Getting out of the home office or cubicle provides a change of headspace to keep energy and productivity high. 

4. Better Technology Reliability of In-Person Meetings 

In-person meetings don't get derailed by video conferencing mishaps. As long as the presentation equipment and room Wi-Fi are set up properly, technology issues are minimal. Participants can focus fully on the discussion instead of troubleshooting virtual meeting problems. 

5. No “Zoom Fatigue” of In-Person Meetings 

In-person meetings give attendees a welcome break from their screens, reducing the risk of video chat fatigue setting in after long virtual sessions. Being able to read body language and interact in-person is less taxing for focus and concentration. 

Cons of In-Person Meetings 

At the same time, in-person meetings have downsides to weigh: 

1. Less Convenient of In-Person Meetings 

The need to travel to an in-person meeting location reduces convenience significantly. Local attendees may lose productivity commuting. Out of town attendees face air travel and hotel costs. Trying to coordinate everyone's schedules for in-person meetings can also prove challenging. 

2. Venue Rental and Catering Costs of In-Person Meetings 

While using a video conferencing subscription has minimal costs, renting meeting rooms and catering food and refreshments for in-person meetings represents a major expense. For larger meetings and events, securing an adequate venue and providing meals, drinks, A/V equipment etc. can blow up the budget quickly. 

3. Limited Scalability of In-Person Meetings 

In-person meeting venues have finite capacity. If you're expecting a large turnout, it may not be feasible to accommodate everyone comfortably in a single conference room or hall. With video conferencing, there are no such seating limitations. 

4. Health Risks of In-Person Meetings 

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the public health risks associated with bringing groups together in an enclosed physical space, especially during flu season. While virtual meetings keep attendees safely apart, in-person meetings have potential to spread viruses and illnesses. 

5. Environmental Impact In-Person Meetings 

In the fight against climate change, reducing unnecessary travel is essential. For geographically distributed teams, cross-country flights to attend in-person meetings generate massive carbon footprints. Virtual conferencing is a greener alternative. 

6. Disruption from Travel from In-Person Meetings 

Long-distance travel for in-person meetings can sap productivity and morale. Being stuck at airports or in cramped plane seats for hours diminishes energy upon arrival. Jet lag from time zone changes can further interfere with performance during and after meetings. 

Best Practices for Productive Meetings 

Whether you opt for virtual or in-person meetings, following best practices is key to having productive sessions: 

1. Set a Clear Agenda 

Define the meeting objectives and circulate an agenda so attendees can come prepared. Make sure everyone’s clear on topics and goals upfront. 

2. Use Meeting Minutes 

Take detailed meeting minutes to capture key discussion highlights, action items, and decisions. Share the minutes with all participants to keep everyone aligned on next steps. 

3. Limit Meeting Size 

The fewer meeting attendees, the more productive the conversation. Only include required participants and avoid allowing meetings to balloon into assemblies. 

4. Designate a Facilitator 

Appoint someone to serve as meeting facilitator to keep the discussion on track in a timely fashion. The facilitator can redirect off-topic tangents and make sure action items get recorded. 

5. Utilize Visual Aids 

Visual aids help focus the meeting and enhance retention of complex information. Have presentations, documents, or diagrams ready to display as needed. 

6. Set Time Limits 

Make sure meetings start and end on time. Avoid going over the scheduled duration unless absolutely necessary so participants remain attentive and focused. 

Choosing the Right Meeting Format 

In deciding between virtual and in-person meetings, organizations need to consider factors like: 

Meeting purpose: Some discussions lend themselves better to in-person interactions, like brainstorming sessions where you want lively energy and debate. Other more straight-forward meetings can work fine virtually. 

Team distribution: If employees work remotely across states or countries, virtual meetings may be the only logistical option. 

Meeting Frequency: Monthly or quarterly large-scale meetings might warrant the investment of assembling in-person. Weekly team standups can get accomplished effectively online. 

Budget: Renting meeting rooms and traveling has major costs, so evaluate your budget before committing to wide-ranging in-person meetings. 

Ultimately, the best approach is usually a blend of virtual and in-person meetings tailored to your team’s needs. Take advantage of video conferencing convenience for regular collaboration. Then schedule periodic in-person time for relationship building and higher-impact strategy workshops when budgets allow. This balanced mix enables businesses to maximize productivity and benefit from the unique advantages of both meeting formats. 

Make In-Person Meetings Memorable with Davinci Meeting Rooms 

When it is time to bring your distributed team together under one roof, you want to make sure every detail is perfect for hosting productive in-person meetings and brainstorming retreats. Davinci Meeting Rooms delivers great experiences around the globe. Davinci Meeting Rooms offers customized solutions to create engaging meeting experiences for groups of all sizes.  

With state-of-the-art Davinci Meeting Rooms, solopreneurs to large enterprises can choose from over 20,000 spaces, reserve online instantly, rent by the hour or day, and tap fully serviced and equipped services that includes administrative and catering. Reserve a Davinci Meeting Room today. 


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