Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 25 2013

Scientific Proof for the Power of Face-to-Face

By David McMillin, Staff Writer

meetingAre your attendees looking for new ideas to fuel innovation within their organizations? New research shows that they should hang up the phone, turn off the screen and look for face-to-face collaborative opportunities.

A new study conducted by the Meetology Group with support from from the IMEX Group, Barbican, Dubai Convention Bureau and PCMA Education Foundation compares how three different environments help people generate ideas. Using more than 100 participants at the IMEX 2012 exhibition, researchers paired participants together and then asked them to develop solutions to a problem. Some participants worked together via video. Some worked together via phone. Some worked together face-to-face at the same desk.

The outcomes? Face-to-face was a clear winner across the board with more ideas, better quality of ideas and a wider variety of ideas. On average, the face-to-face partners developed 30 percent more ideas than participants in video or voice conditions.

“These results appear to suggest that if you are a company or organization that needs to generate a high quantity of fresh, new ideas, then getting a group of staff or other people - perhaps stakeholders or customers - together in the same room will produce measurably more than other methods,” Carina Bauer, CEO, IMEX Group, said in a statement.

“This is not to discredit the part that other methods can play, especially in this age of crowd-sourcing, for example, but it does suggest that if creativity or innovation is the aim, then face-to-face collaboration is more efficient and productive,” Bauer added.

Meetings Mean Ideas

As budgets tighten and technology evolves, organizations need to know that paying for registration fees and travel expenses to participate in face-to-face meetings will yield real results.

“The economic impact of face-to-face meetings is well-documented, and this report highlights the true creative impact of bringing people together,” Deborah Sexton, President and CEO, PCMA, says. “When it comes to moving businesses forward, ideas are an invaluable fuel for the future.”

The timing of the report is especially powerful for the United States Postal Service. While the USPS has recently come under fire for its $2.2 million investment to be part of the National Postal Forum, this research clearly outlines that face-to-face collaboration is key to generating innovative approaches to mail delivery.

For more tips on how science and psychology can help you create more effective meeting environments, click here for a guide that includes 39 tips for better meetings based on scientific research.

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