Considerations of a communication scholar on virtual meetings and “physical meetings” events, to whom new technologies offer more opportunities than risks.
1. The reason of a meeting
Today technology allows a real time communication even between far away persons. So why do we still have to meet personally in addition to higher costs?
It is said, that what is not economic has to disappear. But, business (and not only) events with a “physical meeting” still exist and grow in number. They change and adapt to the new economic and technological realities, but they do not disappear at all. Why? There are two answers: it could be a clear violation of the economic laws (but even the hornet, according to the physical laws should not fly…) or the fact is that “physical” meetings are expensive, but not uneconomic. This means they give something, which is worth to pay.
What is it? A higher quality of a more involving, lasting and prime communication. Moreover, when quality communication is required a “physical” meeting is unbeatable.
2. First of all, the relationship
It is useful to recall a golden rule of the communication: the communicative relationships come before the means they use. This means that if the relationships are strong, they will have the tendency to develop through every possible channel, and if they are weak, they will use few and economic channels because there is a low expectation on the relationship and its possible benefits.
Moreover, in case of important communicative relationships can have flows ranging from virtuality to reality or not. If I am aware that through contacts in Facebook certain people or certain groups deserve to be frequented, and if I have a good relationship with someone, in particular I will try to hang out more, even on line, and so on.
3. The net improves the events
Therefore, we can have a provisional conclusion: no disappearance of the events facing the new virtual opportunities, just a raising of the expectations.
But we can also make us a question: Is it true that the era of net, events tend to take on increasing importance and may even develop into new forms by integrating the physical encounter with technological potential? Yes, it is true.
To which conditions? At least three, concerning the “statute” of the relational behavior: learning, meeting and transformation.
We are more incline to spend our time in meeting the others if we have the feeling that this meeting makes us learn something that we could not learn otherwise. It is surprising that in front of the actual virtually endless availability of resources, where everybody seems to just a click far away, there is a request for occasions involving a great waste of time and energies. Yet, we know some things only by the interchange with the others. So, the transmission of the knowledge becomes more and more precious, and more and more mediated by the meeting and the interaction.
5. The meeting
A great distance is often hidden behind the apparent continuous proximity of the socials networks. The other is behind the mask of his photo, of his preferences, of his declarations. And so we are. But in the real meeting with the other, we must do have to improvise our behaviors, in a sincere and collaborative way. This authenticity is a very strong need today.
In the authentic occasions, we change ourselves. The change needs a ritual passage, a precise moment in the time and in the space in which something matures and discloses. In almost all the religions, this moment is described as the conversion or enlightenment, a transformation towards a wider level of awareness. Nevertheless, we know that we are stimulated to spend our time and our energies (and our money) if we have the impression that what we are doing something which is worth experiencing. The events make sense if they suggest, and then they realize, this possibility of transformation and improvement.
7. New technologies: Let’s use them!
Finally, do not give to the new technologies a miracle -value (the solution of all the problems) neither a diabolic role (they will destroy the meetings among people). They are just a tool. The “physical” events will always be the best communication tool, but you have to be sure, more than ever, that they guarantee: real and useful learning, deep and warm meeting among the participants, opportunity of transformation.
To get all of this you can also use the new technologies, and invent different and new format.
If you keep these three benefits, your events will certainly be successful, the results will be lasting and you will have a productive investment.