I need to communicate an important message to a group of people in the workplace and wanted to know the advantages and disadvantages of face to face communication.
Having done a little research on this topic, here is what I found.
(A) Advantages of face to face communication: (1) Promotes constructive discussion between parties: 2-way communication enabling productive dialogue, (2) Body Language: Facial expression & demeanour visualised, (3) Relationship building & promotion of trust: Forges relationships & message transparency), (4) Clarity of message: reduced ambiguity
(B) Disadvantages of face to face communication: (1) Logistical constraints: geographical challenges, (2) Set up costs: venue hire & travel, (3) Ineffectiveness on larger scale: lacks engagement and participation, (4) Responding on Impulse: ineffective response
Face to face communication is essentially a communication method where the Communicator transmits a message to the Receiver. There should be at least 2 parties involved and it should generally be verbal in nature, in the form of a meeting, interview, conference, lecture, workshop, etc.
I have further detailed both the advantages of face to face communication and the disadvantages of face to face communication.
(A) Advantages of face to face communication
1) Promotes constructive discussion between parties
Meeting face to face is constructive in that it offers an opportunity for 2-way communication, depending on the size and format of the meeting. This is especially useful when you have a deadline and the only way to close out any remaining points is via a face to face meeting.
It allows attendees to thrash out ideas and possibly conclude on agenda topics.
2) Body Language
Your body language goes a long way when engaging with the receiver of the message. The message being portrayed is better absorbed when not only are you able to hear the communicator but you can also see them.
The receiver is attentive of facial expression, eye contact, posture, etc which is not possible with more traditional forms of communication such as telephone conferencing.
3) Relationship building and promotion of trust
Having face to face engagement with your audience forges relationships and promotes trust and transparency of the message.
In today’s advanced communications age, arranging a face to face meeting shows motivation and commitment to communicate your message effectively. Outstanding open items are more than likely to be closed out in face to face scenarios, compared with written communication methods.
4) Clarity of message
There is less ambiguity when communicating face to face, enabling you to better express your message and for there to be clear dialogue and understanding of the message. The communicator and receiver are able to openly discuss and receive instant feedback.
We have all been in certain situations where written communication has been misinterpreted.
(B) Disadvantages of face to face communication
1) Logistical constraints
This is far more prominent in larger firms where staff and offices are geographically scattered, therefore it may be too difficult or not geographically feasible to execute face to face communication.
Ask yourself if the time spent travelling to/from the proposed meeting point is optimal use of your time and would telephone conferencing be a more productive communication method.
2) Set up costs
It’s generally cheaper to communicate via methods such as telephone conferencing or written forms of communication. When arranging a face to face meeting you need to account for logistical costs and constraints, room/venue hire costs, refreshments, resourcing cover, etc.
The frequency of face to face communication and its associated cost impact should be considered. High frequency face to face meetings will clearly cost more.
3) Ineffectiveness on larger scale
When communicating on a larger scale, any opportunities for constructive engagement may be limited or inappropriate, hence the audience are merely receivers of the message.
In this instance 2-party communication between the Communicator and Receiver is null and void.
4) Responding on Impulse
Face to face communication does not always give the Communicator ample opportunity to articulate a thought out response to a question.
It requires more of an immediate impulsive response which may render it ineffective and is more prevalent with feedback face to face sessions.
In today’s technologically advanced communication age, effective communication is imperative to ensure your message is received accurately and efficiently. There are numerous forms of communication from email and Webex to telephone conferencing and Skype.
It’s likely that we use many differing forms of communication either on a personal or professional level. There are benefits and constraints of each method and each communication scenario needs to be evaluated to decide which method is most appropriate for your communication needs.
There are clearly cost and logistical constraints coupled with inefficiencies when communicating face to face on a larger scale, however the advantages of face to face communication seem to carry adequate weight and appropriateness with regards to constructive dialogue coupled with trust and clarity of message from the Communicator to the Receiver.
It appears we shouldn’t disregard the human aspect and importance of face to face communication, building rapport and maintaining relationships.