Exploring the arguments for online meetings

A comparison between face-to-face and live online communication, in terms of both effectiveness and efficiency.

I’ve been collecting my arguments for and against face-to-face and live online communication, in terms of both effectiveness and efficiency. I’m making no distinction between meetings, webinars and training sessions. Here goes:

Which medium is more effective, i.e. is more likely to help you achieve your goals?
Face-to-face communication can be more effective than online communication because:
  • discussions can be more freeform and spontaneous;
  • on the rare occasions when a lengthy meeting really is needed, this is likely to be more comfortably achieved face-to-face;
  • you can engage in activities that require participants to be in the same physical space.
Live online communication can be more effective than face-to-face communication because:
  • meetings can be held as soon as the need arises, without waiting for participants to travel to a central location;
  • it will be easier to attract the participation of experts who are geographically dispersed;
  • a greater degree of anonymity makes it easier for more retiring participants to contribute;
  • the text chat ‘back channel’ enables networking and collaboration to take place even during other activities (especially presentations);
  • the ability to record sessions makes it possible for those who miss the live event to still gain some benefit.
Which medium is more efficient, i.e. will use less of your resources?
Face-to-face communication can be more efficient than online communication because:
  • it does not depend on the availability of technology – connectivity, devices, etc.;
  • the skills in facilitating face-to-face meetings are more widely available.
Live online communication canl be more efficient than face-to-face communication because:
  • it is cheaper in terms of travel, subsistence, etc.;
  • it takes less time in terms of travel, etc.;
  • it is more environmentally friendly;
  • it encourages shorter meetings;
  • if some element of a meeting is not relevant, you can easily do something else.

I’m bound to have missed something important here, so comments please.