The need to meet

July 2, 2008 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Yesterday I had a reminder of how little we actually need to physically meet the people we work with, but when we do, there is absolutely no substitute.

It came during a negotiation for a deal, I was sitting face to face with the potential client, we decided he needs to meet our chairperson. So to close the deal physical presence is required 🙂 . 

You might think this just goes to show how conference calls, email, online whiteboards and the rest of it just can’t cut it. 

However as I was arranging the next meeting, I realized that I couldn’t work out when I’d last physically met our chairperson – I know where (Seattle) but not which year – perhaps 5 years ago. We talk frequently on the phone and email pretty constantly, but we haven’t needed to meet for ages.

Here’s how I figure it: Once you know someone (from having physically met them a few times) you build a subconscious visual model of them. After that when you talk to them by phone this model kicks in and lets you ‘read’ them as if you were actually there.

The model works best for voice communications because there are many more ‘cues’ to feed into the subconscious model. I’m thinking of timing, tone, emphasis etc all of which are harder to convey in email or other textual forms.

All of which makes me think that we are on the right track with – voice communication is very valuable – especially in a largely silent medium  – like the web.


Entry filed under: media.

The power of TV the 2008 Leeds Barcamp

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