As the long longed-for light at the end of a very long tunnel starts to get brighter - and with it longer days and warmer weather - the consensus view is that people will be desperate to see each other again. The appeal of a pub beer garden on a warm day is obvious, but who would have thought that you could miss a company meeting so much?
The fact is that we are a social species. Virtual meetings can not, and will not ever engage in the way that real-world events do for a number of very simple reasons.
Why a video call is not enough.
At Colour;Noun, we have always had a big interest in body language. We are all attuned to read tiny signals that indicate how well people are engaging with the things they are being told, but a large percentage of this important information is conveyed by how you hold your body, position your weight and move your feet. It’s one of the reasons we don’t like people holding discussions around tables at events.
When you are sitting in front of a screen stance, posture, even hand gestures are suppressed. In addition your eyes will be on the screen instead of the camera on your device so any semblance of all important eye-contact is lost.
Online experiences have become too frequent.
Zoom quiz anyone? How about five hours staring at a screen for online school? Oh, and I’m planning a catch-up with four friends, but it has to end after two hours because we have a family group call set up afterwards.
Or, if you can’t face another online conversation, we could just meet and talk.
Given the choice, after everything people have experienced during the isolation of lockdown, most people would rather grab a coffee and a chat somewhere outside of where they have been forced to stay for months. When you are looking to reconnect people, if it is at all possible, take the opportunity to let people talk organically, instead of commenting in the chat box, raising their (virtual) hands or remembering to unmute themselves.
People miss people.
Contrary to what many people think, unpredictability is appealing. Imagine life without a chance meeting with an old acquaintance in the street, or a shopping expedition to the High Street without the chance of an impulsive bargain purchase. Serendipity makes life worthwhile; little surprises make life interesting, and nothing is more surprising than the conversations that happen organically when a group of people come together and mingle freely in real life. Remember stories in the pub? No one plans them. There is no agenda. One comment spurs another, or an anecdote, or an opinion. That’s what people need.
So what should I be planning, right now?
Start planning your next meeting - your next, real-world meeting that is – because it’s going to get busy later in the year. Confidence is going to rise and demand will be high. Plan something now that will make people feel valued, welcome and connected again. We have lots of ideas to help you do something special. And let’s face it (face-to-face it if you like), something special is what we all need after the past few months.
Get in touch and let us share our extensive experience with you.