10 Reasons Virtual Meetings Are Better Than Real Meetings
In virtual meetings, his teammates don’t even know he’s brooding in a coffee shop somewhere. [Image by Mike Licht via Flickr]
Are virtual meetings better than “real” meetings? This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Citrix. All opinions are 100% my own.

Anyone who’s ever spent time in an office knows that meetings can take up a substantial part of a typical day. And whether such meetings are actually productive toward accomplishing a certain team goal or they just wind up wasting time that could have been better spent actually working on that goal, they’re not going away any time soon.

What can go away, however, is the awkward way that we’ve been doing meetings all along. With sophisticated 21st century technology like GoToMeeting by Citrix to replace “real” meetings with virtual meetings, it’s a wonder that anyone sees the need to meet face to face, anymore.

But what’s so great about virtual meetings, anyway? Don’t they have the capacity to be just as wasteful of precious time in billable hours as traditional meetings? Sure, there’s always a chance, depending on your team members and how often they like to gab about topics not germane to taking care of business. But at least virtual meetings give you quite a few advantages over traditional meetings that should help balance things out a bit.

Here are 10 reasons that virtual meetings are better than “real” meetings.

Virtual Meetings Are Convenient for Everybody

Sometimes, a sudden breakthrough (or unforeseen obstacle) in a project calls for immediate action — and a meeting to gather all team members is crucial to ensuring that all views are considered and no one is left out of the loop. With traditional meetings, someone is bound to get lost in the process as varying schedules tend to intervene at the worst of times; if Frank is working from his home office that day and Judy is out taking care of her sick daughter, the team suffers from their lack of input and they miss being filled in on the project’s most recent adjustments. Important things slip through the cracks because making the meeting just wasn’t convenient for everyone at that particular time.

With virtual meetings, everyone can be included, no matter where they are or what equipment they have on hand. GoToMeeting, for instance, allows participants of virtual meetings to chime in from their PCs, Macs, tablets, laptops, and smart phones conveniently from wherever they happen to be at any point in time — no travel time required!

You Don’t Have to Hide Personal Multitasking in Virtual Meetings

At traditional meetings, you’re in the same room with your team members, and doing anything that can be perceived as a lack of attention on your part to the matter at hand can have dire consequences, depending on how management approaches such lapses. At the very least, doing anything other than having your eyes glued to the current speaker and his or her presentation is likely to be considered rude (even if keeping your hands busy with doodling, for instance, actually helps you focus).

At virtual meetings, you can doodle, play Tetris, sort that image gallery you’ve been meaning to organize, clean your desk, file your nails, eat second breakfast, ride your exercise bike, rest your eyes, or any number of things that would be frowned upon if other people were physically present (as long as you can keep your head in the game)!

In Virtual Meetings, You Aren’t Restricted by Room or Equipment Access

In busy office environments, it’s not uncommon for multiple teams to share conference room space where traditional meetings take place. And even if you’re able to secure the conference room when an impromptu meeting is called, equipment like slide projectors, chalkboards, easels, and even tables and chairs may be in short supply.

Virtual meetings are able to ignore these restrictions, entirely. You can be as spontaneous as you need to be without worrying about how another team is discourteously eating into your conference room time and hogging all of the equipment you need to function, because, again, your team can be in touch from anywhere at any time.

Recording Virtual Meetings is Often an Option

With GoToMeeting, your virtual meeting can be recorded for the benefit of anyone who couldn’t make it (like Barry, who was having an emergency root canal), or for team members who sign on to a project after the meeting’s already taken place, or to help remind people who were there of the important points addressed.

Especially the ones who were “multitasking” with a game of Tetris instead of paying attention the first time around! (Ah, virtual meetings can be a double-edged sword.)

Virtual Meetings Let Your Team Spend Less Time in Transit, More Time on Being Productive

Not everyone who plays a part in the day-to-day functioning of LockerGnome lives in the same state — or even the same country, in a few cases! Obviously, trying to have a traditional meeting at LockerGnome World Headquarters in Issaquah, Washington (my house, because I say so) would prove difficult even once a year, let alone with any sort of regularity. Travel can be time consuming as well as finance consuming, and it really cuts into hours better spent being productive.

Thanks to virtual meetings facilitated by GoToMeeting, we can have spontaneous calls to action whenever the need arises, and no one has to board a single plane, train, or automobile.

Virtual Meetings Allow for Improved Privacy

This sort of goes with the “multitasking” point made above. Maybe you have an annoying habit that could really get on the nerves of your teammates in a personal setting (like biting your nails or smacking your lips). Perhaps you’ve had a bad acne breakout that medical science doesn’t seem to be able to help you with, but it’s all you can think about and you just can’t bear the thought of other human beings seeing you until it clears up. Or maybe you work best when surrounded by posters of show poodles in funny hats, but it’s not something you really want to share with your coworkers.

Whatever the reason, if you want privacy, virtual meetings can provide you with sanctuary in ways that traditional meetings simply can’t with a simple toggle of the camera button. Heck, you can even turn your camera off when you sneeze or pick your nose — no one will care, because no one will know!

Virtual Meetings Let You Work in Your Pajamas

Pants are so overrated, don’t you think? The modern working world is far removed from the days when your grandfather would have to wear a suit and tie to work every day. Do you do your best thinking when you don’t have to worry about how that meatball stain on your shirt from lunch makes you look like a slob in front of your boss and the rest of the crew? Virtual meetings help you maintain a level of physical comfort that’s appropriate to you and how you perform your best work.

(As an aside, I’ve seen a lot of people walking around in public in their pajamas, lately. Is this some silly hipster fad, or just a modern working world that’s perhaps grown a little too comfortable with the conveniences afforded by virtual meetings?)

In Virtual Meetings, You Can Mute Yourself and Others

Do you have a team member who brings nothing to the table but personal anecdotes about vacations to interstate family restaurants and the outstanding talent displayed by their brat at a recent tuba recital? In virtual meetings, you can keep an eye on the time that this person is talking without actually having to listen to what they have to say thanks to the magic of the mute button.

You can also mute yourself if you’re enjoying a brick of peanut brittle (sent to you by that same team member from a truck stop somewhere) and you don’t want the intrusive popping and crunching and lip-smacking to present your team with an earful of your decadence.

Screen Sharing in Virtual Meetings Adds Dimension to Presentations

As they say, “sharing is caring.” And as much as we’ve talked up the positives of being visually absent from the team during virtual meetings, there are times when being able to illustrate a point to your team members by showing them what you’ve got on your computer screen is ideal.

In a traditional meeting, everyone probably has to drop what they’re doing and come gather in your cubicle to peer over your shoulder at the monitor on your desk. Not so with most virtual meetings. GoToMeeting gives you the tools to easily share exactly what’s on your screen with the rest of your team; likewise, team members can share what’s on their screens with you.

What’s with the guy who’s got the show poodles in hats as his desktop wallpaper, eh?

Virtual Meetings Give Your Team Easier Access to Collaborative Tools (Google Drive, Etc.)

In not-so-olden times, if we wanted to collaborate on a document with other members of our team, we’d have to send actual files back and forth, and one person’s changes could easily run the risk of accidentally overwriting the changes of another.

Now, with the help of the cloud, we can access and share such files in real time without the fuss and bother of email attachments and the perils of unintentional deletion and file corruption in transit. As easily as it makes sharing the contents of our personal computer screens with team members who could very well be on the other side of the world, GoToMeeting ensures smooth collaboration with whatever tools the team happens to be using.