Virtual meetings won’t end with the pandemic. And you don’t want them to.
As a rule of thumb, once we add a behavior around technology, we don’t go backward. Look at your phone for proof. We used to use mobile phones only to make phone calls. Then they added texting. Then came apps. Then Video. Then social media. Yes, you still use your phone for calls, but you also use it for all of those other things that have come along as well.
The same holds true for virtual meetings.
Once everyone gets vaccinated, once we move past the pandemic, we will move back to in-person meetings, conferences, and one-on-one get togethers. But we’ll also still use virtual meetings as part of our overall toolkit—just like you use your smart phone to make calls and do all of those other things that have come along.
The key to increasing your leverage as a leader is to expand your comfort and expertise into the virtual space at the same time as the world moves back to the in-person space.
Here’s why: It’s more effective to have the ability to meet with people in both realms—in-person and virtual—than to think you should abandon virtual meetings once the pandemic passes.
To meet with 400 people in person, you need a big conference room. Everyone has to travel, park, budget a lot of extra time to get there and to get back. Not simple.
To meet with 400 people in the virtual space, you need to lift the lid on your laptop and make sure everyone has the link to the meeting. Simple.
For the past year, we’ve all held virtual meetings, virtual keynotes, even virtual conferences because that was the only option.
Soon, we’ll have more options, not merely the current option and not only the former option.
The effective leader will evaluate each situation based on a number of variables: time, cost, return on investment among them.
Not holding a virtual meeting in the future because you aren’t comfortable in that space is near sighted and foolish.
I can see a future where a leader delivers a keynote in person at a conference in the morning, holds a virtual, leadership team meeting before lunch, conducts a series of in-person meetings in the afternoon and visits with key vendors in virtual meetings before wrapping up the day.
Some situations will call for in-person gatherings. Some will call for virtual meetings. And much will be up to the discretion of the organizer. Your ability as a leader to move seamlessly between in-person meetings and virtual meetings will eventually be as second nature as the way we move between apps on our phone. Eventually. But in the near future, most people will be so happy to be in-person again, they will flee from virtual meetings and leave a competitive advantage behind.
Virtual meetings are simply a different platform than in-person meetings. The ability to expand influence across platforms is one of the fastest ways to grow your influence as a leader. Even if you don’t like virtual meetings, being on camera, sitting in front of a computer, it’s crucial to develop the skill set to looking and sounding as on-brand in the virtual space as in physical space.
The most effective and influential leaders will do just that.
And that’s why you don’t want virtual meetings to end with the pandemic. You simply want to fold them into your toolkit of options.