A week of meetings and major no-shows

Better meetings breakfast

This was the first set of monthly trips to the UK to meet business partners, attend community events and, classic me, I over-did it.

All in all – I had scheduled 7 meetings in the week, 3 podcast interviews, 4 industry events/meetups to attend including the Better Meetings Breakfast Club on the morning of the last day of my trip.

Planes get delayed.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

It doesn’t matter how well planned anything is, the unforeseen is always possible. The unforeseen in my case was a delayed flight to the UK that meant I would have to reschedule my Monday meetings.

I tend to think that the person or people I’m meeting should know straightaway what is going on – in the subject of a personally worded email.

I tend to start with ‘Oops, flights delayed, our meeting tomorrow is off’, at least they can immediately adjust their expectations and get on with planning/re-planning their day.

What is your preferred way of cancelling or rescheduling your meetings?

Just getting around is tiring

With my first two meetings rescheduled, I still had to get around London to meet some partners for some deep chats over food. London has a relatively small central area, made more accessible with a well connected transport system (even if often crowded and generally unfriendly!) – but I still find it really tiring to get about – especially when I have to work or collaborate when I get to wherever I’m heading.

How do you cope with fatigue between meetings?

In meetings I find I have a lot of energy – but it takes a lot of energy to sustain that level of engagement, actively listening and talking. So the added travel between meetings just adds to the fatigue. Food helps!

Always have an expressed agenda

Photo by Samuel Chenard on Unsplash

Lots of my meetings are with small groups – 2 maybe 3 other people. In these kind of cosy conversations, it seems inappropriate to have too many gadgets and meeting artefacts. So I try and have a core set of tools.

I always establish an agenda – even if only at a high level. I do this by offering what I want to get from the conversation and invite my co-contributors to say what they want to get out of the time too.

This week I got a compliment on that approach – a partner I was meeting said “I don’t often get asked what I want to get out of the meeting – I’m usually told. I like it, I feel like you showed me respect’

To be honest – I do this expressed agenda technique to make sure that my key things are covered, I’m king of the tangents and without this kind of technique we would soon end up talking politics, kids, science and any number of other interesting things.

What do you do to help set expectations , agenda and outcomes from your meetings and conversations?

Whoever comes are the right people

This week we also had our first Better Meeting Breakfast Club. It is meant to be a very informal community of practice (a space for meeting practitioners get together to learn, share and commiserate with each other!)

I wasn’t expecting many people to sign up on the Evenbrite events page, perhaps half of the advertised seats of 14. After all this is the first event for a topic that everyone endures but no one really wants to tackle. It’s like meeting about the common cold.

As it happened, only 4 people signed up. That’s ok.
This is not my first rodeo at sparking community. So I wasn’t phased at the low sign up.

But I was a little disappointed that none of the four that signed up actually showed up! They didn’t even cancel.

Have you experienced no one showing up to your meeting? How do you deal with that?

Well, it was 10:30am – I was hungry and I was in a breakfast restaurant. So there was only one thing for it. To sit and have a solid breakfast and have a meeting with myself and then later on with Ben – my marketing partner.

Photo by Keegan Houser on Unsplash

It is not often we get time in a planned out day to ourselves. I have learnt now that when these opportunities for ‘me time’ come up, to use it wisely. Rather than rush off to something else, I now take time to reflect, perhaps focus on my own stuff.

One of the things I reflected on was that ‘Community is hard, people might not show up’ and I resolved to understand why and make improvements to the next attempt at the Breakfast Club.

There will be a next attempt and one after that, because this is important.

Take back control of your meetings

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What could you do with all that time?

what could you do with all that time

So what could you do with all that time? We talk a lot about cutting down meetings, here’s what it means to some of our amazing Amazemeeters.

We talk a lot about meeting efficiency and saved time but when was the last time you stopped to think what that really meant. What would you really do if you got some of that precious time back? So we asked you and as usual our amazing community was not slow coming forward. For me this is really what Amazemeet is all about having better meetings and getting back in control of not just our working lives but our lives so we can spend more time doing the things we love. My time saved is spent doing too things time with family and time to create ideas. Here’s what everyone else likes to do

The 2 hours per week savers

2 hours doesn’t seem like a lot but there’s plenty you can do with 2 hours! For most of us it seems 2 hours is a great piece of time saved to actually do some work. The biggest complaint we hear from Amazemeeters is that meetings stop them from actually doing their jobs. Gaining back 2 elusive hours is a great block of time to sit and concentrate on that report, come up with that next amazing idea or simply day dream. More on that here.

If you had 2 hours back what would you do?

4 hours per week

4 hours, that’s half a working day

We’re getting into super efficient territory here. Amazemeet is a brilliant step to saving this kind of time but like all tools it’s only as good as the person wielding them. When we spoke with our community our more experienced users are saving this kind of time cutting out unnecessary meetings but it’s also been a catalyst to get better organised in other areas of their working life. Cutting out distractions at work, being more disciplined with tasks are high on the agenda. WHat’s more startling though is how much happier Amazemeeters seem when they are making significant time saving at work.

When we asked the community what they do if they’re saving 4 or more hours a week it’s a lesson in balance. Whilst everyone seems to cite getting actual work done this is balanced with having more time for things outside of the work environment. Having fun, spending time with family, picking the kids up from school all feature highly. As does taking some time out for yourself. Many of you commented how saved time is great for mindfulness.

What’s very clear though is that more focussed Amazemeeters are getting the balance right. They generally seem happier, they’re more productive and they feel much more in control of the working lives and lives in general.

8 hours, the holy grail

So i’m sure you’ve read that and thought, hey hold on that’s a whole day. Yep, that’s right. If you read our recent post about the 5 hour work day then saving 8 hours a week is definitely possible. Just imagine what you’d do with all that time. Actually what’s interesting is that most of the community say the more time they save the more they actually need to plan how to use it. Once in a while a box set binge on the couch can be great for the soul but it’s not a long term strategy. I have to admit there aren’t that many Amazemeeters saving 8+ hours a week, those that are have really taken the bull by the horns and decided to completely re-evaluate they way they work and live. It’s not something to be done lightly. But it’s something that’s becoming increasingly necessary. Many of our work based cultural constructs are rooted in the past, particularly the idea that time spent at work equals productivity. In fact the opposite is true, it’s something we seem to have fallen into with meetings as well. Good communication is a hallmark of good company culture, but couple this with technology that’s made it super easy to meet and talk and it’s easy to tip the balance. Microsoft Japan trialled the 4 day week and two things happened. Productivity went up and so did employee happiness. The idea of simply spending more time at something goes totally out the window. Sure in a cotton mill more time on the production line probably did equate to more output. But, when the jobs that many of us do really on creativity, thinking, ideas the opposite is true.

My own experience as a seasoned marketer working both cleint and agency side is that the more you work something the worse it gets. My tactic is to walk the dog, get some clarity of thought, it’s where the saying “sleep on it” comes from.

But just think a whole day! What would you do if I suddenly said you could have a whole day back? Drop a comment and let me know.

We can’t promise you’ll save 8 hours, but we can promise you’ll take back control of your meetings

Try Amazemeet, free.

Better meetings breakfast club.

better meetings breakfast club

So when Mike first mentioned the better meetings breakfast club it immediately made me think of the image in this post!

Sadly this belies my age and fondness for John Hughes movies. No, the better meetings breakfast club isn’t a Saturday detention for angst ridden teens. Rather it’s a chance to meet with Mike and other like minded people who are simply tired of having crap meetings and want to do something about it.

As the founder of Amazemeet Mike brings a wealth of experience to the table, he’ll be there to hear your frustrations and offer up suggestions about how things can be improved. Mike’s also there to learn your experiences and tips to get better meetings are super valuable so come along and share.

Oh and there will be coffee, tea, croissants and bacon sarnies!

WHEN: Friday the 21st February, 10:30am-11:30am

WHERE: Lantana London Bridge, 44-46 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1UN

*This event is not about selling, Amazemeet are committed to making meetings better for everyone. To do that we need to meet as many people as we can who are motivated for change. Sharing our experiences and ideas will help shape better meeting and a better working life for us all.

Sign me up for the Better Meetings Breakfast Club

Put some science into your meeting scheduling.

meeting scheduling

Putting some science into your meeting scheduling could be the answer If you’re struggling to get your meetings to reach their goals.

So let’s get this out the way, we’re not advocating using science for meeting scheduling as some kind of brainwashing* tactic! We wrote a few weeks ago about the post-prandial dip and how this can affect meetings, how to mitigate the effects and work it to your advantage. This post is very much a continuation of that. In our quest for ever better meetings we’re constantly exploring the variables that affect outcomes. Whether it’s better planning, meeting scheduling, attendee selection, follow up and most importantly the human element. They all play a role in getting the outcome we desire, which in most cases is why we have meetings in the first place pooling knowledge, insight and experience to work a problem and reach a goal.

*We’ll write a post about brainwashing next week – Ed.

Is there an optimal time to have a meeting?

According to UK company YouCanBookMe, who analysed data from more than two million responses to 530,000 meeting invitations, the best time to have a meeting is Tuesdays at 2:30pm. So from now on you can only have meetings on Tuesdays at 2:30pm. OK, so that’s not really practical especially when some of us spend 30% or more of our time in meetings. I’d also ask the question is this the best time or the most popular time for people to book meetings? It’s certainly true that Mondays tend to be a bad day for meetings, people are back at work, picking up on tasks and tend to be most productive. Does this infer that Tuesday is just the next earliest available day. We could even argue of these are external meetings with clients perhaps could the timing be designed to avoid buying lunch! It sounds almost silly but these are all questions to consider.

Let’s look at things from an Amazemeet perspective. We know that the culture of increasing numbers of meetings is bad and having more meetings is bad, certainly if you believe every study done into meetings in the work place. But, we keep having them and keep having more of them. This would suggest that behaviour is out of whack with effectiveness and efficiency. We could therefore argue that pinpointing a time based on an inherently flawed premise is also a complete red herring.

Let’s take a different view

Perhaps the answer lies in science. Rather than scheduling meetings at the most popular time why don’t we work towards the most effective time. Afternoon meetings, especially after lunch meetings are prime post-prandial dip territory. As we’ve discovered the effects can be mitigated but that suggests after lunch is not the “best” time.

The “best” time has to take into account of the type of meeting. Let’s take 4 examples:

  • The informational meeting, mainly announcements
  • The decision taking meeting, deciding on actions
  • The discovery meeting, discussing problems and solutions
  • The brainstorm, lots of ideas and blue sky

and here’s some science to work out which should happen when

The Best Time to Learn Something New

Learning is at its most effective when the brain’s in acquisition mode. This tends to be between 10:00 am to 2:00 p.m. and then again from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

This kind of meeting is definitely not something to do burning the midnight oil, the lowest learning valley occurs between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.

The Best Time To Make a Decision

How often do we say let’s “sleep on it” it’s common for a reason: we make the worst decisions late at night and first thing in the morning. Your cognitive powers are strongest once your brain has a chance to shake off sleep inertia.

Sleep science research has pretty established that a good night’s sleep i.e. good quantity (7 to 9 hours at night) and good quality (a decent amount of that in deep REM state) allows your brain to properly ‘consolidate’ everything it has gathered in the day. It is literally when your brain has the time to process and build lasting memory and refresh what it already knows. So, as if by magic, the problem that seemed so wicked the night before, is solved when you awake.

Save important decisions for when you feel most alert, generally within one to three hours after waking up.

The Best Time To Brainstorm

The major irony here is that research has found that people are at their least creative when it’s demanded the most: normally at the heart of the workday, between 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Dr Michael Breus suggests leaning into “moments of groggy greatness” when we’re slightly tired and easily distracted. During these times, right and left brain communicate, which can trigger new and novel connections — and spark innovative ideas.

The Best Time to Ask for Money

No question, Friday afternoon. While this is the least productive day of the week, people are generally in a good mood. A positive outlook bodes well for asking for a raise or making a sale. Avoid Monday mornings — when people are the most stressed and grumpy — at all costs. Anecdotally there’s also something to be said for accents, it’s been proven that people trust Scottish accents the most when speaking to their bank. so next time money is involved make sure it’s Friday afternoon and you’ve practised your best Glaswegian accent.

These definitely aren’t 100% the answer every time but try it, you’ll be using science to schedule meetings that align with the way peoples brains work. A good first step when you’re using Amazemeet to plan your meetings is to think about the kind of meeting you’re having and schedule accordingly. We’d love to hear the outcome?

Need a simple tool to help plan your next perfect meeting?

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