You can’t beat the real thing

21/08/2020

Video calls have been invaluable in keeping us connected during this crisis, but as human beings, we are hardwired to get more out of face-to-face meetings explains Max Gosney, GHI Chairman

“I think you’re on mute.”

“Can everybody see my screen?”

“Sorry, I need to kick my kids off Fortnite as it’s consuming my bandwidth.”

These phrases have entered common usage in 2020 as we all try to stay in touch with colleagues from our homes during the lockdown period. 

And there’s no doubt that video call services like Zoom and Teams have been a lifeline for businesses through this turbulent period. Here at GHI, we’ve been absolutely reliant on the service to stay in touch with one another, you guys and deliver our Webinars, newsletters and magazine issues.

The aces of silicon valley who’s techno prowess has kept the world talking during the pandemic deserve all the plaudits. Yet as the applause fades and the novelty value of the video call recedes – my heart yearns to raise a virtual hand and say, with safety measures in place: ‘can we now sit down in person and talk, please?’.

The view is echoed by aviation leaders who sit on GHI’s Advisory Panel board that’s helping us shape this year’s Annual Conference. ““There are many things you can do via video conferencing facilities and it’s clear that these facilities have been the saviour of many business during lockdown. However, deals are done by people with other people,” reflects Nick Yeadon, CEO of Air Dispatch. “The next few months are likely to be the most commercially dynamic ever for the industry and the GHI annual event gives us the platform we need to make those deals in a safe environment.”

Christophe Deloux, International Procurement Manager, Air France, adds: “It helps the entire airline industry to connect each other, to better understand the situation and to tackle all together as one team the emerging issues in front of us. Face-to-face interaction is an invaluable opportunity.”

The verdicts of Nick and Christophe are supported by science. Yes, video calls have been an integral tool and will continue to play an enhanced part in aviation business communications. However, the quality of virtual communication can’t match a real world meeting.

And, that’s because non-verbal clues are more important than what someone is actually saying when communicating.  Up to 93% of communication is non-verbal according to psychologist, Dr Albert Mehrabian and it’s much easier to spot these signs in person when the Wi-Fi never lags.  

As humans, we are hardwired to seek signs of compassion, empathy and integrity in the way someone holds our gaze, smiles and nods as we talk or leans forward to hear us speak. You simply can’t pick up these signs as effectively through a screen. Trust leads to partnership, teamwork and better business outcomes.

A face-to-face meeting also fosters greater engagement among participants. When we are together in the same room, we are more focused on one another, rather than scanning Google alerts or surreptitiously reading an email on a video call. A face-to-face meeting denotes a matter of importance, that warrants focus and engagement in the subject at hand.

The homo sapien is also prone to the powers of mirroring. Emulating body language conveys empathy and rapport. It also plays a role in creating excitement in your product and services. If you convey enthusiasm and wonder then your audience are programmed to respond in kind with the activation of mirror neurons according to researchers. Again, that’s much harder to achieve through screens.

Crucially, the face-to-face networking event is a hive for ad-hoc business leads. You might spot that old colleague walking to the next meeting room or the person you shared a glass of wine with on the boat at the GHI Americas Conference Delegate Dinner. You’d never have thought to connect with them via a pre-arranged video call, but by chance they have a great opportunity they would love to catch up with you about while you’re here.

As our industry faces up to unparalleled change – it is our firm belief that bringing the aviation tribe together in a safe and supportive environment at the 22nd Annual gives us the best platform for building a successful recovery in 2021.

So, shutdown that laptop screen, drop your business attire into the dry cleaners and rediscover the joys of in person networking again by joining us in Copenhagen.

The team and I look forward to seeing you in the flesh…

Fed up of video calls? Email your views to max@groundhandling.com