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Jun 17, 2021

Keeping meetings real(ish)

A lighthearted thought experiment about the next-gen tech tools that could help make hybrid meetings even more authentic in the future

Even though the world is beginning to breathe again in the wake of the pandemic, some things will remain consistent from the old normal to the new paradigm: investor relations departments will still be scrambling to make the most of their budgets, senior management teams will continue to be pressed for time, and the air conditioning systems in hotel conference centers will still be too cold by lunchtime.

But the advent of online meeting platforms has brought the prospect of a hybrid investor meetings schedule, with most companies gearing up for a blend of online and in-person appointments during the second half of this year and into next year.

We’ve all had plenty of time to get familiar with virtual meeting technology during the last year, so we thought it would be fun to imagine how the next generation of tech tools could even more accurately simulate the pre-Covid-19 in-person experience.

Handy accessories
Covid-19 has rendered handshakes a thing of the past so 2022’s meetings will be plagued by an awkward exchange of gestures in greeting. Should you go for a hug, a high five or a fist bump? And has your counterpart washed his or her hands in the last five minutes?

Now picture a virtual handshake simulator: a glove that learns how you and others shake hands. Then, instead of actually shaking hands, you can virtually do it – whether you’re at your desk at home or standing two feet away from the person you’re greeting.

Guess the expression no more
We don’t know how much longer we may need to wear masks but, in the meantime, don’t leave your peers guessing. While we all hoped we’d be better at smizing (smiling with our eyes) at this point, few of us have truly mastered the art of emoting with only half of our face.

So imagine a flashy LED face mask that allows you to upload a screengrab of your mouth to its corresponding app and communicate as your maker intended – pearly whites and all!

Interruption generator
Everyone has become inured to the cute, daily interruptions to their online calls, to the point that a quick five-minute burst of somebody else’s pet on screen gives participants a sometimes-necessary chance to shake off any tension, down a glass of water or rest their screen-sore eyes.

Recapture some of that vital recuperation time with a virtually generated interruption of your choice, picked from a gallery of greatest hits from the last year. Need an out from an analyst grilling? Time for your crying child to chime in just out of the frame. Realize the investor you’re meeting with has no interest in your company? Ding dong! The postman is at the door and you have to sign for an urgent package. Retail investor asking you why he can’t buy your product with Dogecoin? Uh-oh. Fido’s had a gastric incident on the carpet. Which brings us to…

The smell simulator
Folks often talk about the unmistakable smell of money, but what about the whiff of anticipation that comes with earnings day? Caffeine, excitement, dried-out pastries, stretched nerves and that colleague who forgot to apply deodorant: we’ve been deprived of so much.

Now picture an air diffuser above your computer, spraying out that familiar cocktail of scents as the analyst follow-ups enter their eighth hour. It’s almost like you’re back in the room, and all the better for it!

Also available to simulate the scent of site visits and long-haul international flights following jet-lagged non-deal roadshows.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue of IR MagazineClick here to access the magazine

Laurie Havelock

Laurie has been part of the IR Magazine team for more than a decade, starting out as a reporter and research editor before becoming editor in 2023. He was previously acting business editor at the i newspaper and deputy business editor at The Daily...