Technology today is amazing. Thanks to audio conferencing and cloud-based web meetings solutions, like web conference tools and video conferencing, simulating a face-to-face meeting can be done in a single click of the mouse. But just exactly how do you know when to go online or when to get on the plane? Here are two big things to remember when choosing online meetings versus face to face meetings.

Just how important is this meeting?

This seemingly simple question is incredibly misleading — especially if there’s a big deal on the line. Whether you’re ready to close an important sale or interviewing a pivotal candidate, every facet of business life deals with this question. Here are a couple things to think about when weighing the values of a face-to-face meeting or taking your meeting virtual.

1. This meeting will close the deal. If this single meeting will close a vital deal, take it face-to-face. Body language, tone of voice and just the sheer physical presence takes care of at least 55% of communication.

2. This meeting might close the deal. If you’re getting close to solidifying your business arrangement — contract, employment agreement, vendor relationship, etc. — consider using online meetings to move the process more expeditiously. With scheduling conflicts, travel time and expense, the mid-negotiation process can be incredibly cumbersome. And many of us have travelled via car or plane to a meeting that was unceremoniously rescheduled halfway there. Instead of a single face-to-face meeting, opt for multiple online meetings. More face time via video conferencing and much less expense.

3. This is just the start of negotiations. Follow the #2 advice here, as well. More meetings using web conferencing or video meetings, less expense and much more face time. You also get the opportunity to show off your tech prowess with great online meeting presentation ideas to give you the edge over the competition from the get-go.

4. This is our first meeting. If at all possible, meet face-to-face. A handshake is vital in the process and establishes that you’re dedicated to building the relationship. If you can’t meet in person, opt for a full-experience video experience, like iMeet. Using this innovative online collaboration tool, you can show your company’s communication innovation, connect on LinkedIn to grow deeper professional connections and turn on your webcam to meet face-to-face digitally.

What do the participants want?

Asking yourself “what do my meeting guests want” is the close-second finisher to determining what type of platform works best for your next meeting. Know your audience; research them on social media sites like LinkedIn, Google them to determine their background and connect with shared professional connections. And, when in doubt, ask them flat out.

For a select few of us, we can instantly analyze someone’s character traits: wants, needs, likes, dislikes. For the vast majority of us, however, that’s very hard to pin down — especially if we’ve never met them before. It’s completely fair, and often appreciated, to ask the following questions when arranging a meeting:

1. How do you prefer to meet — online or face to face?

2. Do you believe there’s a possibility this meeting could get rescheduled?

3. What day of the week and time works best for you?

4. How should I schedule the meeting — with you or an assistant?

5. Are you comfortable with (insert name of meeting technology here)?

6. Do you have a webcam? Or will you likely join only on audio conference?

These two big things to consider when choosing an online meeting versus face to face meeting will get you started. We’re in a brave new world, and don’t be surprised if online meetings become the go-to method for 90% of your meetings. But remember, too, that there are still those old-school folks out there who believe relationships can only be built over golf and dinner. The secret is knowing your audience, and becoming a meeting expert with the help of the PGi Learning Space.