Amazemeet, introducing your new meeting facilitator.

meeting facilitator

Meeting facilitation is what makes Amazemeet special, so what is it?

The meeting facilitator isn’t just a nice to have it’s essential because the world we live in now allows us to have fantastically useless remote meetings in glorious 4k video with world class sound and precisely the wrong people, seamlessly scheduled at a time that suits, to have a meeting no one understands the need for. Or certainly that’s what we hear, it’s why we’ve created Amazemeet so you can start having better meetings.

To go forward we first need to go back. So a little bit of history … believe it or not, 50 years ago – we had much better meetings. Sure, there were fewer meetings and they weren’t online – but that is not *why* they were better.

They were better because they were facilitated – from start to finish – by trained facilitators. Almost every office had a secretary and this person was trained in lots of skills  – including how to run meetings. Fast forward to 2020 and there are far fewer secretaries in the world of work. Today they are called Executive Assistants and that title means different things to different people. The art of meeting facilitation has been lost somewhere along the way, maybe because we’ve made it far to easy to have meetings we just assumed we didn’t need it?

At Amazemeet – we are not afraid of tackling the hard things. We recognise that as more people meet online, the need for facilitation that leads to effective outcomes becomes even more critical. That’s why Amazemeet version 3 is all about facilitation.

Please welcome Maya – our AI powered meeting assistant and facilitator.

With Maya – every meeting organiser gets their own facilitator (don’t worry you can name it any name you like) – complete with an avatar.

The facilitator helps with the following:

  1. Guided Meeting Wizard: Maya will walk you through the creation of new meetings
  2. Regular Design Check Ins:  Maya regularly checks in with invited contributors and makes sure people show up
  3. Start-to-Finish Meeting Facilitation: Maya will start the meeting with an intro and guide your meeting through all the agenda – from start to finish with helpful prompts to make sure it runs smoothly.
  4. Time management: Some things do overrun necessarily, Maya will minimise the knock on effect. Suggesting dropping items from the agenda if there is a hard finish and automatically scheduling another meeting to cover those dropped items.
  5. Enforce Good Practice: e.g. Making sure that participants have read the pre-meeting items – because no one really wants to be on a meeting where we are all reading a document OR worse still  – have a document read to us! Maya will make sure you don’t knowingly start one of those.
  6. Post Meeting Follow up  – Maya will follow up on tasks and outcomes, keeping all stakeholders informed.

This is just the beginning, Maya will, over time, learn how you like your meetings to run and make improvements and suggestions tailored specifically to your preferences.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings, especially online.

Try it Free.

Looking beyond lockdown.

looking beyond lockdown

As we look beyond lockdown what kind of world will we emerge into? Will we see lasting change?

Asking somewhat what the future holds right now is a bit like asking for the winning lottery numbers. It’s still far from certain where we will be in one or two months. What is certain however, is that large chunks of the economy are going to take a hit. Some, retail in particular, was on shaky ground before Covid-19 came along and it would be fair to say the outbreak is the straw that’s broken the camel’s back. We do have some motivation however to embrace positive change especially where meetings are concerned. If you don’t believe us read our post the hidden cost of crappy meetings.

What will the lasting impact be?

It’s hard to see how some aspects of the economy will recover. The high street may well never return as we know it. That will be a great shame but it’s also very clear that a traditional model of retail has had it’s day. As people move more towards seeking experiences this could be an opportunity for our shopping streets to transform into places we actually want to visit, rather than rows of the same shops selling the kind of things we get from Amazon.

For meeting culture and those sectors Amazemeet works with the shift is likely to be more cultural. Enforced remote working was at first a pain. But now more and more people are beginning to embrace the change. Organisations are starting to question the need for large, expensive offices for all employees and lets hope will embrace a more flexible future.

The challenges that come with this are many. Having the right tools in place to communicate and corordinate become more and more important. Organisations need to plan for flexible work and ensure processes are defined and understood by everyone. I read an amazing book on this subject, check it out here.

Evaluating the change?

It would be very easy once we emerge from lockdown to crave a shift back to business as usual. There’s always comfort in maintaining the status quo and it’s easy to see how some business will relish the chance to get back to their view of normal. That overlooks what a great opportunity this has been presented to us all. I believe there will be some good to come from our enforced lockdowns. Obviously there’s nothing to be found in the outbreak but the future may tell a different story.

Just look at the advances being made in vaccine development. As many a scientist will tell you war and war like circumstances are often hotbeds of advancement because they bring neccesity to the table. The same could be said of now.

I challenge the smart organisations amongst us to think critically about how lockdown has impacted their organisations, good and bad. Positives will be found and they need to be absorbed into our normal business lives.

Having the tools to sustain change

This period in time has either been really hard or really easy. Some organisations are set-up for flexible working some are not. Some industries cannot support flexible working at all some can. Middle ground is a difficult place to occupy. But that’s OK. For those that can embrace it and to reiterate my earlier point the tools and process to make flexible working better than the traditional office trudge are vital. Amazemeet recognised this for meetings some time ago with a clear drive to hyper efficient meetings. The difference now is that rather than having more time to actually work in the office, you have more time to work and spend with your family. It’s also where project management tools like Asana come into their own. All these cloud based solutions are completely agnostic when it comes to geography and that’s vitally important for a distributed workforce.

Start planning for the future

Embracing lasting change is likely to mean a complete rethink of the physical space we occupy as organisations. We need to start thinking about the individual rather than centring how our organisations function around a place. This will take time and require a huge shift in mindset but it’s a great first step to moving out of a factory mentality.

How great would it be if our office was simply a place to meet colleagues and customers, a place to connect physically and our workplace was wherever we chose it to be?

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings, especially online.

Try it Free.

Breaking out of the bad meeting culture

Breaking out of the bad meeting culture

Sometimes to break a habit we need a big push.

Covid-19 could be the best chance we’ve got of breaking out of the bad meeting culture we’ve been stuck in for the last 10 years. That might sound kind of heartless but very often to really drive home a behaviour change we need a big event. A push to home working for most of the Amazemeet community could be just that. Let us clarify though, in no way are we suggesting that Covid-19 is a good thing but like most ingrained habits humans need something really monumental to force a change.

The good thing is there’s definitely a reluctance for certain kinds of meetings to happen online. We highlighted how much money these bad meetings cost in our hidden cost of crappy meetings blog. Spoiler alert, it’s a lot.

The meetings that tend to be the biggest culprits are:

Project Status meetings

As project teams become more cross-functional with diverse skill sets and people reporting into different managers there’s often a nervousness amongst project leaders around team communication. This generally results in the infamous recurring meeting. The problem is the information shared is very often irrelevant to certain groups within the project team at any given point. So you sit through a meeting waiting for the one thing that affects you.

This is the exact opposite of what Amazemeet advocates for meeting attendees to be able to contribute. Rather it’s much easier for teams to add updates to a shared drive, forum, slack channel etc.

Information broadcasts

These are those meetings you sit through where someone stands up and runs through news, company announcements etc. They are a big time waste. People read faster than they listen to unimaginative delivery. The irony is that if these sessions are done well they can work as team building exercises and help to develop a culture of two-way communication. Sadly 99% aren’t and could be handled by a page on your intranet, an email or a print out by the water cooler.

I challenge you to add up how many of these kind of meetings you have each week?

The good news is that when we’re working remote there’s a reluctance to have these meetings with such frequency. I’m not sure why, maybe remote doesn’t give the organiser the platform they crave. Or perhaps the organiser knows they’re inherently a waste of time and it’s easier not to do them when your not all in the same office? Either way it’s good news for anyone obsessed about having better meetings, like us!

The rest of the key meetings:

  • Decision making
  • Problem solving
  • Innovation
  • Team building

are super valuable, and they work online. These meetings tend to have actual outcomes as all good meetings should. After all that’s what we’re trying to achieve, effective meetings.

Our hope is that as we start to emerge back into the world from our home office cocoons that we won’t just slip back in to our bad meeting culture and pick up where we left of. There’s signs that a cultural shift is on the cards the challenge we all have is to embrace it rather than assuming it’s a negative. We live in a world that tells us we must be connected to everyone else all of the time, is this a good thing. Businesses used to function perfectly well with far ;less meetings than they do today.

Cast yourself back 25 years?

That’s a time before social media. Do you even know what a working day looked like back then? I challenge you to talk to someone who worked in a corporation 25 years ago and ask them about the meeting culture back then. How often did they meet, did meeting less affect their ability to do their job. The answers might be surprising.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings, especially online.

Try it Free.

Are we about to see a reset of meeting culture?

reset of meeting culture

Could current circumstances see a reset of meeting culture, are we about to witness a happy by-product of a terrible situation?

As we all being tackling online meeting could this be the catalyst for a reset of meeting culture? We’ve explored the hidden cost of crappy meetings and it’s fair to say we have too many and too many are bad. But, something interesting is happening. As we move to enforced home working for many of us our meetings have moved online and we’re having less of them. For some reason meetings on a whim tend to be less popular. Endless rounds of announcements can be done much easier via email or a messaging app. The meetings we are having are becoming more effective by default as we’re only pulling people in who need to be there and where we have more certainty over the outcomes we want.

Why is behaviour different?

It’s a strange situation because the technology that has led us into every increasing rounds of meetings is the very technology we are relying on to keep us connected. From my personal perspective an online meeting feels like a bit more effort, it feels like it should be more effective. Certainly that’s the case when it’s the only format we can actually use. When the technology is a support for face to face the behaviours we see are markedly different. Has this got something to do with people being alone? It’s a tricky question to answer but early indications are a positive one when you consider the amount of money we waste on bad meetings.

Do we just have bigger things to worry about?

Well without mentioning the C-word I think we can all agree that there are bigger things going on in the world than our daily stand-up. Depending on the length of lockdown though this will dissipate and we will have to get back to business as usual. Take Amazemeet for example, we are a truly distributed team working 100% remote. Our team is spread across Europe and Asia, apart from a general sense of worry our working process hasn’t been affected. Whilst most companies don’t work this way they are having to quickly get to grips with a distributed model. Once they get it down i’m sure many will wonder why they spend so much on office space! From a meeting culture perspective though i doubt they will fall back into there old habits, especially if there isn’t a face to face element.

Driving effectiveness

The opportunity that exists around a reset of meeting culture is massive. If we can move to a place where meetings are about effectiveness then we can save a ton of money. I mean billions of dollars, pounds, euros, we can also free up time to actually get work done and have more time to do things we really enjoy. It’s an exciting time especially for Amazemeet as we play a key role in helping drive that effectiveness.

Will a reset of meeting culture last?

So cop out answer, it’s hard to predict. What is certain though is that business behaviour is certainly secondary to what we do in our personal lives. Looking back on the 2008 financial crisis gives us some indication, people tend to gravitate towards things that are considered a sin; chocolate, alcohol are good examples. It’s fair to say after lockdown many of us will want to socialise again, but this doesn’t mean we need to slip back into bad habits at work. I’m sure most companies will have realised the benefits of more flexible working and less pointless meeting. Maybe we’ll see some bold executives and employees actually stand up and raise this. Hopefully we’ll look back on this period of time and draw positives as well as negatives.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings, especially online.

Try it Free.