The possibilities of unified communications and digital phone solutions stretch beyond just the traditional workplace. Town halls and shareholder meetings are starting to join the virtual movement, and it's proving to be successful.
Virtual meetings in politics
An experiment was conducted with the U.S. Congress to determine whether small town hall events actually influenced voters' opinions. Interestingly, these meetings were held virtually over the Internet. There were 12 congressmen who put on 19 different town hall meetings. About 20 people participated in the events. The virtual meetings included a chat room for attendees to ask questions to their representatives. The representatives in turn answered the questions over the phone. Just like VoIP single source communications, participants were able to access multiple applications at the same time.
Based on surveys given before and after the meetings, the experiment indicated that representative trust and approval went up about 10 percent, and participants were 14 percent more likely to vote for that representative. The same type of online town hall meeting was conducted later with a greater number of participants, and the results were similar.The entire ordeal served to demonstrate the power of holding town hall meetings, but it ended up showing something even more promising: the future of virtual meetings.
Virtual shareholder meetings
Politicians aren't the only ones to utilize this platform of communication. Hewlett-Packard recently hosted a completely virtual shareholder meeting, demonstrating the advantages unified communications can have.
Virtual shareholder meetings have benefits on both ends. Annual physical location shareholder meetings don't often bring in many attendees, so for companies, the virtual platform saves money. With the hassle of making the commute to one of these meetings eliminated, companies can reach more shareholders who would prefer to stay at home.
An argument against an all-virtual meeting is that investors lose out on valuable face time. One solution to this issue is the hybrid meeting, where the meeting is held at a physical location but shareholders can virtually tap into it. This way, they can see the mannerisms and facial expressions of the CEO or board that give more insight into the unspoken answers.
Additional benefits for investors include the option to remain anonymous in an online meeting, which might encourage them to ask the tough questions that everyone is wondering. Some platforms also allow shareholders to submit questions ahead of time. While this takes away the element of surprise for companies, it also ensures that investors will get fully thought-out answers.
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