Matt Denton, president at dmg events, says our innate reactions to face-to-face contact mean physical events will remain the most effective platform for business communications.
Among the first things we learn to do as humans is recognise faces. Through observation and mimicry we learn to recognise and respond to our mum and dad’s smiles, their frowns, the hundreds of micro-gestures they broadcast every time we do something clever or cute. It’s instinctive.
Look around your workplace now. Your most socially adept colleagues – the most empathetic, the easiest to get along with, the best communicators – will all be excellent at it. It’s a skill critical to successful interactions, we’ve all been developing it since childhood and most of us have mastered it to some degree.
Instinctive recognition of these social signals is why it is always so much easier to talk to someone in person, rather than via technology. It’s also why I believe physical events remain critical to any business growth strategy.
Since the invention of the telephone, technology has been enabling more rapid, but more remote, communications. While this has brought innumerable benefits it has also led us to fight our basic communication instincts. Email might be quick and convenient, but it can also feel impersonal and be easily misread.
This communications disconnection is more than a feeling. People routinely overestimate their persuasiveness via text-based messages. A face-to-face request is 34 times more likely to be successful than one made by email, partly because non-verbal cues only conveyed in person make all the difference to getting a positive response. Other instinctive reactions happen face-to-face too. A handshake or other greeting gesture builds trust. So does smiling. We are all likely to pay closer attention when we meet for real, rather than virtually.
This is why events remain incredibly powerful. Professionals arrive pre-qualified, eager to meet, learn and discover innovations. With their interest already sparked they are more likely to engage with you and your brand. Personal contact builds a connection, creating the kind of engagement impossible to achieve with a screen between you. That depth of connection can pay dividends for years ahead, not just in a post-event sales surge.
Events are a focal point for professional development. In the age of the time-starved online learner, attendees fill our seminar sessions to earn CPD points and debate issues with peers. This invaluable experience is increasingly rare for a professional generation still exploring the power of technology-led and digitally-disrupted communications.
At live events we have the chance to use the communication skills we have all been learning since childhood. Communicating face-to-face is instinctive for all of us. Our innate social skills mean doing so makes business dealings easier to conduct, negotiations smoother and communication more open. It’s our basic instinct; why fight it?