I was having lunch with a friend/colleague/mentor person recently, and we shared a rant on in-person meetings.
Now, this person is among the friendliest people I know, and she is so comfortable in front of an audience. She coaches groups of professional people for a living. She’s not afraid of being in a room with people. In fact, she loves it.
But when she told me she avoids traveling for meetings (not coaching gigs, but specifically meetings), I must admit I was a little surprised. You want to know why, don’t you?
Much of the work I do today is in the world of technology (I am an independent web designer/developer). I, like my friend, avoid in-person meetings when possible.
But, that’s still not the norm, and I still can’t always avoid them.
Recently I was scheduled to give an app demo to a local healthcare organization. My preference was that everyone find a comfy chair and login to Google Hangouts and watch me walk through the app. They said no. They needed me there. They also needed to bring people down from an office 20 miles away to sit in the room.
This is a mild example. I have plenty of others, but I would have a hard time obfuscating the folks involved, so I’ll just move on. You get it, I’m sure.
Why I Avoid In-Person Meetings
I don’t avoid in-person meetings because I don’t like people. I’m not afraid of people. I don’t prefer sweatpants to jeans. And I’m not scared of driving.
Let’s go back to the app demo example.
Let’s say the meeting is an hour long. If I stay in my home and present via Google Hangout or GoTo Meeting or some other webcast tool, I spend an hour in the meeting. While people are “showing up” I can either build rapport with those in the (virtual) room, or I could get some other work done until everyone is there.
I happen to live near the hospital district in my city. So this is about the shortest drive you’re going to get to a meeting. It takes about five minutes to get there. But, I also need to consider all of these things:
- Time to set up the cords and connectors (5 mins)
- Time to park walk inside, check in, and be escorted to the room (10-15 mins)
- Time to pack up and walk to back to the car (5 mins)
And I’d also say, although I’d get ready on any other day, too, I’d probably put a little more effort in and spend an extra 5-10 minutes putting myself together.
Best case scenario is I added 30 minutes to my one-hour meeting. That’s absolute best case. It’s usually more than that.
It’s not just that I’m not going to get that time back. That’s sunk cost, and I don’t care about it from a time perspective. But, when I make a sale, I’m going to consider how much time it took to make that sale. I’m going to consider how much time I’ll spend in meetings while I’m managing the account.
So, when you consider rounding, that means that a client is going to pay almost double the time they spent in a one-hour meeting. If being there made that much of a difference, then it’s worth it. But I have never seen that be the case. Not for meetings.
I avoid in-person meetings to work more efficiently and to lower costs.
And I (attempt to) have only one exception to this rule – happy hour. If someone schedules a happy hour with me, then I’m more than happy to talk a little shop.