Video Conferencing vs. Face-to-Face meetings (including for G20 Summit)

After experiencing myself (live) the G20 Summit in Toronto last week-end, and based on some of the numbers: 

Face-to-Face meeting at the G8

 

$1.2Billion of security cost, over 19,000 police officers, 900 people arrested, 10,000 words in a final agreement with little results as it is so difficult to have 20 global leaders agree in such a short period of time on so important global issues, and different agendas. 

 As collateral damage, not yet included in the cost of the gathering, downtown Toronto was turned into a ghost town for a week and a war zone for 2 days, and devastated by organised groups of violent protesters, who came to get their message out by broking windows & doors of major brand’s stores, destroying cars from the media teams, getting police cruisers in flames, scaring people, and breaking the law, and this goes for any world summit as G8 and G20. 

 Do we learn any lesson? We have to think about others ways to host our leader’s workshops and meetings, using all the fantastic technologies available today, that all businesses use nowadays: Audio and Video conferencing, collaboration tools to share live documents online etc… 

I totally support this idea, especially in time of economic crisis, deficit, expenses cut and insecurity due to international terrorism. On the other side, political leaders keep saying that the face to face meeting of the G20 is the only format to discuss sensitive issues and come to some kind of agreements. 

Indeed, there has been some scientific research done on the effectiveness of face-to-face meetings versus video conferencing and the results show that face-to-face meetings are more effective in producing tangible outcome and more likely to result in agreements than technologies as audio-video conferencing. 

Body language, face expressions, eye contacts, feelings, emotions are important factors, and more than 40% of our intuitive communication comes from non-verbal sources.  Also being together in a room produces a sense of a shared mission which is more difficult to create over the internet. 

Video conferencing offers good capabilities and some effectiveness but is still imperfect: the delay between audio and video feeds can confuse human brain, and can disconnect the words from the intended context. 

In conclusion no technology available today can beat face-to-face meetings in term of effectiveness…but at what price? 

The cost of this G20 meeting was over $1 Million per minute of meeting!!! 

So what do You think? Video Conferencing or Face-to-Face meeting for the next G20 Summit ? 

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