We are not dissing the tremendous value of virtual meetings, but we are arguing that there is a time and place for face-to-face. Below, we look at the art and science of how “being there” in person creates value.

The 45th FIPP World Media Congress offers a time and place for you to “be there”. But before diving into the article, you can sign up here to join us in Cascais from 6-8 June. Also read:

  • Congress agenda deep dive: 7 themes, 60+ speakers; or if TLDR:
    • ChatGPT summary of Congress agenda deep-dive.
    • ChatGPT summary – the art and science of “being there.”

Now for more on 7 of the benefits attending events in person bring:

  1. A concentrated investment in gathering perspectives
  2. It gets you energised
  3. It aids management development
  4. It aids in creating and developing ideas
  5. It drives emotional and social benefits
  6. The “intangibles” of in-person drive deeper connections
  7. It offers a time-out to work “on” rather than “in” your business


1. a CONCENTRATED INVESTMENT gathering perspectives:

Congress takes place from 6-8 June in the seaside village of Cascais, near Lisbon. The venue is in the city’s old fort, bordering the marina. It means you can meet and engage with peers worldwide–in one place, in a highly concentrated period. Here is how research influences our thinking around the benefits we create for you with the event.


The Wall Street Journal writes (subscription) that research shows that face-to-face interactions may feel like much more work than using technology. But in reality, they are more energising. 

What we say: 

People get a kick out of positive conversations that stimulate thinking, exchange perspectives, and allow them to excel. Diversity drives ideas. Congress brings together attendees from around the world. What price do you put on that one conversation at Congress opening up a new world of opportunity?


According to Robert Hooijberg, a professor of organisational behaviour at IMD, and Michael D. Watkins, co-founder of Genesis Advisers and a professor at IMD, writing for HBR.org, four broad dimensions impact management development.

  • Collaboration is about building shared understandings, relationships and trust.
  • Innovation is about getting creative ideas out of people’s brains, exploring how they fit together, and collectively engaging in learning processes to refine and realise them. These require trust and time together in non-stressed environments.
  • Acculturation is about creating a robust, shared company culture–an essential element of organisational effectiveness as it builds mutual understanding and a sense of shared identity.
  • Dedication is about having a shared sense of purpose and feeling part of a community.

Hooijberg and Watkins then ask what fosters these four dimensions beyond merely placing people in the same place at the same time. “We believe the answer is to design an immersive experience incorporating five design drivers.”

  • Purposeful focus: Face-to-face experiences inherently have the potential to generate and sustain focus. Being physically together makes it harder to give in to all kinds of distractions.
  • Interpersonal bonding: This creates safe environments for collaboration and innovation. Bonding refers to emotional connections that lead to trust, support and openness among participants.
  • Deep learning: Conceptual learning means gaining an understanding of ideas. It means wrestling with concepts, debating them and understanding how subtle differences in context influence application. Deep learning makes the concepts come alive in relevant and context-specific ways.
  • Unencumbered experimentation: Immersive face-to-face meetings are necessary for developing personal trust and bonds that allow for experimentation unencumbered by concerns such as turf, resources, advancement, etc.
  • Structured serendipity: This refers to the effect of stumbling onto something genuinely remarkable while looking for something entirely unrelated. A well-designed immersive experience consists of formal and informal elements that create fertile ground for such a moment.

What we say:

  • Purposeful focus: Attending Congress means time out from everyday surroundings with typical day-to-day distractions. It provides a concentrated, focused, professional experience.
  • Interpersonal bonding: Congress is a gathering of attendees with a purposeful goal: developing the industry, business, brands, partnerships, and people. Being together allows participants to foster meaningful and deep connections.
  • Deep learning: What attendees hear from speakers on stage is but a part of the learning experience. Talking to speakers and fellow attendees during networking breaks and meeting helps add perspective and context to bring ideas to life.
  • Unencumbered experimentation: How much easier is it to collaborate with someone you have met face-to-face and trust? Congress allows you to develop those relationships with people the world over. When Congress is done, the benefit is not.
  • Structured serendipity: We go back to an earlier point. What price would you put on that one Congress conversation that opens up a new world of opportunity?

A Stanford Business School article quotes a study that shows on-screen meetings “have a significant drawback: They hinder collaboration”. 

The study by Jonathan Levav of Standford Graduate School of Business and Melanie Brucks of Columbia Business School found that “in-person teams generated more ideas than remote teams working on the same problem”. 

What’s more, in a separate study involving almost 1,500 engineers at a multinational, “in-person teams came up with more ideas, and those ideas received higher ratings for originality”.

What we say:

Our on-stage speakers will ignite your creative thinking. The conversations with fellow attendees will build on those ideas, allowing you to add your personal zest and implement your own version of what is proven to work. 


Washington Post has an article titled, The Science of Being There: Why Face-to-Face Meetings are So Important (full disclosure: this was a sponsored content article for Hilton Hotels). They write that for all the advances of virtual meetings software, research shows “time and again that there is simply no substitute for meeting face-to-face”.

According to the Post, quoting sources such as Gallup, Forbes, Oxford Economics, Harvard Business Review and The Maritz Institute, more than eight in ten executives prefer in-person meetings to virtual contact. And often, the intangibles of face-to-face meetings matter most: “a new relationship forged over a drink, a relaxing yoga class after a long day of panels or a level of trust from a casual conversation and a handshake.”

What we say:

Congress consist of structured and unstructured elements. They include the speaker programme, networking opportunities and meetings, the running/walking club and plenty of free time. Besides, our travel partner has several excursions for delegates to book should they wish to spend more time in Portugal. Many have already done, meaning opportunities to engage continue beyond the event. See more here.


Victoria Matey is co-founder of Matey Events, a business specialising in event psychology. While networking and learning are essential event building blocks, the opportunity to connect with others, build relationships, personal growth through learning, and a range of emotional benefits drive success. 

What we say:

Here we simply want to share three tips from Victoria to make your Congress networking experience great:

  • Give your brain a break: Take plenty of tiny breaks and balance your on-site meeting schedule. It will help make communication productive.
  • Focus on the shared identity: Some people are anxious about meeting new people. But think of shared commonalities. Unity is an important principle–shared experiences help develop bonds. At an industry event, this is easy to find. 
  • You are not alone: Many of us rethought how we estimate value during the pandemic. It has also shown how much we miss interpersonal connections. People crave meaningful conversations. You are not alone.

Last, let’s use an example of music festivals to showcase the value of in-person attendance. On EDM.com, Noah Little explores the topic of the human motivation behind attending such festivals.

  • The novelty of an out-of-the-ordinary experience: It is an enjoyable event that happens periodically, in the case of larger events, perhaps once a year. The events attempt to remove individuals from their typical experiences in day-to-day life.
  • Escapism: Humans have the desire to escape from their everyday environment. Attending festivals allow participants to immerse into a world with removed social pressures and no expectations, leaving the day-to-day responsibilities of work.
  • Socialisation: Participants have the desire to interact with known and unknown individuals. Being among others is socially innate and healthy behaviour; isolation is against our nature.

What we say:

A music festival Congress is not, but there are many touch points. The once-a-year opportunity to “escape” from day-to-day tasks, meet global colleagues and focus on the strategic and business development side of your company or brand–a chance to work “on” rather than “in” your business. Music to our ears.

Join us for the all-singing, all-dancing FIPP World Media Congress 2023!

The 45th FIPP World Media Congress offers a time and place for you to “be there”. You can sign up here to join us in Cascais from 6-8 June. Also read:

  • Congress agenda deep dive: 7 themes, 60+ speakers; or if TLDR:
    • ChatGPT summary of Congress agenda deep-dive.
    • ChatGPT summary – the art and science of “being there.”