Business meeting / Unsplash

With massive strides having been made at the workplace in terms of embracing digitalisaiton, can phone calls or WhatsApp messages really compete with physical meetings as methods of communication? Malta’s CEOs don’t seem to think so…

While the business community has embraced the remote and virtual connections made possible by technology since the COVID-19 pandemic, this has also made many business leaders crave face-to-face interactions further.

Now fully aware of the time and energy one can save when opting for a phone call or virtual meeting, business leaders are more discerning when choosing their in-person meetings.

The wrong choice can end up leading in miscommunication and time being wasted, consequently prompting a drop in productivity.

As part of a series of quick-fire questions first published in MaltaCEOs 2024’s print edition, 50 of Malta’s top business leaders had their say on whether they prefer other methods of communication over physical meetings.

The overwhelming majority, 68 per cent, said that they would always aim to go for a face-to-face meeting to better get the message across.

Jonathan Bellizzi / LinkedIn
Lidion Bank CEO Jonathan Bellizzi / LinkedIn

This does not come as a huge surprise when considering the benefits of physical meetings, such as making eye contact, interpreting body language, building rapport, and forging stronger relationships. Essentially, it is all about establishing an authentic human connection.

Jonathan Bellizzi, CEO at Lidion Bank plc remarked that ultimately, “if you are serious about conducting business, at least one in-person meeting is essential.”

Karen Muscat Baldacchino / LinkedIn
FHRD CEO Karen Muscat Baldacchino / LinkedIn

Foundation for Human Resources Development (FHRD) CEO Karen Muscat Baldacchino acknowledged that while online communication is very convenient, “nothing beats personal contact.”

While virtual meetings can help teams stay connected, in-person meetings allow for deeper, more meaningful relationships to be fostered. A study from Harvard Business Review revealed that 95 per cent of people say that face-to-face meetings are key to building successful long-term relationships in the workplace.

However, there are still a significant number of CEOs in Malta (14 per cent) who prefer other methods of communication, primarily due to efficiency and time management purposes.

Mark Holland / LinkedIn
Maltalingua and Stream House Media Productions CEO Mark Holland / LinkedIn

Messaging apps, video or phone calls can be more cost-efficient, eliminating potential travel expenses, especially with air travel ticket prices returning to normal following the pandemic. Individuals can essentially overcome geographic barriers from the comfort of their own workspace.

Emails allow for immediate outreach, sending the same message to hundreds or possibly thousands of recipients in an instant. Additionally, they also serve as a record, helping individuals keep track of messages sent and received.

The remaining respondents based their decisions more on particular situations and the nature of the meeting.

Luke Todd / LinkedIn
MadeYou Ltd CEO Luke Todd / LinkedIn

Mark Holland, CEO at Maltalingua and Stream House Media Productions, pointed out that he prefers to use Zoom for time efficiency, yet face-to-face interactions for building relationships.

MadeYou Ltd CEO Luke Todd said that he likes a combination of both face-to-face and digital, stating that he is a big fan of WhatsApp.

What is your go-to means of business communication?

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