Phone call: Physical actions are lost here in your pitch. You're also probably going to struggle to get enough out in that time and it's usually pretty easy to get off a phone call with someone. The feel here is likely going to be a little tense.
Skype: Connection problems, background noise, do you turn on the camera - this one's a no-brainer really, it's not the best way to communicate and technology being your mode of transport here means you're at its mercy.
Office meeting: Yeah sure this works really well with colleagues should it be a snappy meeting, the problem here is that your colleagues have already had four meetings that day in the same room, they're sick of the site of it. If you're inviting clients in you're now thinking of first impressions, is our coffee any good? Will our slides work on our brand new TV? They also feel like guests in your house, on your turf!
Email: Never use email for catch ups! Actions, the tone in your communication and time is all lost when it comes to email catch-ups. Save yourself hours by simply ringing the person if that's your only option. Above all that, I currently have 102 unread emails in my inbox, chances are I'm not going to reply to yours today, sorry!
Coffee catch ups: Yes, it has it's pros and cons and it's becoming an almost formal way to catch up. But why is this the meeting you must have if you're catching up with someone?
Let's take a look at it through a continuity angle...
Know your environmentBeing in a place that feels alive, fast and buzzing naturally, makes the brain more active. Think about when you're in a busy shopping mall with your partner and all you need are some new work shoes, hundreds of people, a salesman trying to point out discounts, but no matter what you know you're getting those shoes! You've probably now designed those shoes in your mind and like a painter in front of a canvas, they appear in front of you! Somehow like a man-on-a-mission you've found them in all this chaos and you leave.
Between 7am & 9.30am, your local cafe isn't much further from this chaos, but did you know this is incredibly positive for your mind and your ability to process information in an effective manner? This is due to senses in your consciousness trying to keep on top of your surroundings for safety measures, these evolved for humans back in prehistoric times and are seen in animals today. While your mind is keeping you alert, it also sends off signals to your eyes, ears and processing channels in your mind. Here you're now processing five times more information than if you were on the phone or in the office and you're concentrating more than usual.
Playoff these signals by being in front of someone in a cafe talking about those products & services. You'll naturally want to communicate in more detail and you'll feel more relaxed about it as your surroundings are doing that too, plus the smell of coffee doesn't do any harm!
Plan & CheckYou probably got there early to make sure you've found a good seat for the two of you. Beforehand it's likely that presentation and those examples are preloaded on your laptop or notepad, these are all basic checks for the catch-up. Wifi looks to be good too and you're ready to go.
Because you've given yourself a place to be at, at a specific time followed by a basic agenda for the person you're meeting - you're confidently on top of things.
Just like a Business Continuity plan, we check always on how long it's going to take (to get there), is everything we need going to run how we wish (the Wifi in the Cafe), have we thought about if it goes wrong when we least expect it (no seats at the cafe). Scheduling time and keeping to key milestones within that (you've only been given half an hour to chat).
ActivatePressing the 'go button' in your mind before that colleague, prospect or lead turns up will happen as soon as you know you're in that planned environment. Sticking to the plan and the notes you've already made, what you want to achieve and the next step is all going through your mind and will be actioned soon.
Chances are the meeting went great. Again, this is all basic stuff and I don't want to tell you something you don't do every day - my question though is why don't organisations transfer these techniques to their BC plan?
I've seen BC plans that are close to 300 - 400 pages long. Would you read a guide that big on how to have a cafe meeting?
Meeting up with someone in a cafe is a fantastic way to catch up and get to a next step, usually if this is a lead it'll be a proposal or a phone call. I've made the majority of my sales since being in New Zealand from meeting at a cafe, I truly rely on that atmosphere and being able to meet somewhere so neutral. Mirroring the feel and basic idea of a meeting like this is how you should look at your BC plan. Make it comfortable, relevant and streamlined for your situation.