These days, technology is advanced enough to allow secure video calls with 4K quality between any two people around the world. In those virtual conferences, they can discuss anything in total privacy, on secure channels, while seeing each other as if they're really there.

Yet, world leaders fly thousands of miles, and spend lots of money and efforts on actual face to face meetings with other leaders. (Recent two examples: Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, Trump and Putin)

Why is that? What's the benefit of personal meeting face to face?


Face to face meetings still have benefits:

  • You can stand and have your photo taken with the other leader(s)
  • You can bring a team of diplomats with you, they can do their thing in the background, its a lot easier to arrange for your specialist to meet with their specialist face to face and at the same time.
  • Face to face meetings give more opportunities for nuances of body-language to be noted. You can develop more rapport with the other person, or try to physically intimidate them.
  • You can exchange gifts.
  • You can sit down to dinner. It is sometimes thought that the main business of the EU is done when the French President and German Chancellor meet at the dinner table, not at the round table official meeting.
  • The time pressure that exists when you have to face the press in two days with an announcement can get a deal on the table that might not otherwise have been there.
  • 5
    Another point would be that one person cannot be in two places at once, so if someone high up in the chain of command gets sent to some meeting, that alone conveys that "we are serious about this meeting". On the other hand, refusing to meet in person would be seen as a somewhat hostile action. That can be used to create the required image of a meeting's subject in media. Jun 29 '18 at 6:31

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