How do you fix your meetings?

fix your meetings

Do you even need to fix your meetings? The truth is the majority of meetings ain’t great so chances are you do.

 

Most people don’t think they need to fix their meetings. But, ask almost anyone in almost any company about meetings and you are likely to find far more negative feeling than positive. That may seem like fag packet analysis but the truth is the research doesn’t lie. Have a gander at our post The Hidden Cost of Crappy Meetings for more.

 

But how do you fix your meetings?

 

In my experience of working with some of the largest companies in the world, people end up doing some really bizarre things to fix their poor meeting culture.

“No more meetings” rule – as the title implies, no one books anymore meetings ever. This , of course, is total nonsense because the conversations people still must have are simply taken into a different medium like Slack where you might be having meetings whilst you ‘work’ at your desk.

“No Meetings” days – having given up on fixing meetings, this is usually an attempt to protect some time in the week for employees to focus on being productive.

“No meetings longer than ..” rule – with the intent that even if meetings are wasteful and uncomfortable, at least we aren’t spending too much time on them.

“Standup only meetings” rule – in the hope that participants will not take too long before their feet hurt.

Whilst I welcome any thing that might help people be more productive, make meetings more effective –  for heaven’s sake I wish they based their ‘corrective’ efforts on actual data.

 

So, how do you get data to fix your meetings?

 

To have data to analyse you’ve got to start collecting data. There are a number of areas we’ve highlighted that contribute to a successful meeting outcome, namely:

  • Attendance and punctuality
  • Agendas and contributions
  • Follow-up and task tracking

Each one allows you to focus on the key aspects of a good meeting. Having the right people invited in the first place, having a clear agenda, with time allotted to each element. Ensuring attendees are contributing, if they’re not they likely don’t need to be there, and the all important follow up. Each area represents a facet of the meeting that can be recorded and scrutinised once enough data has been collected. Outcomes can then be tracked back and correlated with the other areas of meeting performance to identify the kind of meetings that are succesfull. This can be used to shape future meetings and ensure that everyone attending follows a process you know will succeed. 

It also help to categorise your meetings so you can take a different approach, broadly most meetings fall into the following categories:

  • Status Update Meetings.
  • Information Sharing Meetings.
  • Decision Making Meetings.
  • Problem Solving Meetings.
  • Innovation Meetings.
  • Team Building Meetings

Each of these requires a different approach, some might be better served via different channels. Maybe you can use a Slack channel for status updates? Ultimately though each organisation works differently, by focussing in on successful outcomes you be able to shape your meeting culture just the way you want it and fix your meetings.

 

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings

Try it Free.

Launching a new product during lockdown.

launching a new product during lockdown

Launching a new product during lockdown wasn’t in our original plan, but hey sh*t happens.

As you probably expect launching a new product during lockdown wasn’t a milestone we figured at the end of last year. Funny how things can change, not just for us but for the whole world. Back in January the picture looked pretty different, we were well on our way to launching version three of Amazemeet, we’d rolled out some updates to v2 and were happy with the uptake and response so it was full steam ahead for better meetings.

Amazemeet v3 was so radically different we were effectively viewing it as a whole new product. Functionality in v3 was all about actually helping you to have a better meeting and centred on the virtual meeting assistant. If you’ve read any of our blogs about this you’ll know how important that is, more here. It was and is a true game changer for meetings and more importanly it’s something we need.

It would not be an exaggeration to say crappy meetings are one of the biggest challenges facing the corporate world right now. Literally billions of dollars are wasted on these meetings every year and it’s getting worse very quickly. So we had our product, a great value proposition, some awesome marketing lined up (even if I do say so myself) and the dev team were on it.

It would not be an exaggeration to say crappy meetings are one of the biggest challenges facing the corporate world right now.

Then coronavirus struck

Out of the blue things quickly started to get serious. Things were bad in China, Italy was starting on its terrible journey, Spain, Germany, the USA nobody seemed immune to this. We went from worried to not being allowed out of the house in the space of a few short weeks. Bigger things were happening than v3. Mike decided we could help so we put half the teams time onto Corotrac a simple app to track symptoms and cases. This went way beyond just the Amazemeet team, people from all over the world got involved in the project. People just wanted to help.

it also made us re-evaluate some of the features of Amazemeet. Now people were working from home video calling functionality took on a new dimension. We surmised that this wasn’t going to be a short-lived change so we added a bunch of features to Amazemeet to ensure connectivity was as good as the meeting management and we didn’t stop there. We condensed an entire feature roll-out into the 2 months that we had earmarked for testing and bug fixes before launch. We’ll still be doing that and a big thanks to you guys who’ve signed up to test.

What have we learnt

We knew we had a pretty successful product with over 13,000 users globally. I think the leasons we have really learnt boil down to two.

Firstly how fragile the world is. Coronavirus has upended the entire world, economies are nosediving the path back seems unclear. Businesses, who had enjoyed a sustained period of growth, were suddenly in trouble after 8 weeks of lockdown. Panic buying was rife, people were lost and worse still huge numbers of people were dying. This transcends business and I believe it has caused us all to revaluate what’s important, and that’s a good thing.

Secondly, despite how well you plan, things happen. Ok, this was a biggy, but it just goes to show that you can never be certain about the future. It’s how you react that’s important. I remember the first meeting we had as things started to look bad. Nobody panicked, we simple brainstormed outcomes and how we would deal with them.

Amazemeet will be better for it

Finding a silver lining is hard right now. What we do know is that Amazemeet will be better as a result of what we’ve gone through. Not because it will have one extra feature but because as a team we’ll be better. We’ve been through some tough tests over the last few months and come out of it. That’s invaluable and something that will live with us for a long while to come.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings lockdown or not

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What will matter in the new world of work?

new world of work

The new world of work has somewhat been thrust on us. Will it change our values and how we define successful working?

As we’ve been forced into a new world of work we’ve been reflecting on how our entire working ecosystem will change and the values that we cling to will be reshaped, oh and having some better meetings. Covid-19 struck the world hard and extremely fast. It pushed the vast majoirty of us into enforced home working, overnight companies became distributed businesses whether they wanted to or not.

It forced organisations to quickly re-evaluate their employer, employee relationships in the context of remote working, Did employees have the right technology, how would work fit in with homeschooling and childcare? Employers instantly had to be accommodating, the lines between business and personal have become blurred. But, most of us have made it work and not suffered too much as a result. In fact issues that once were the preserve of personal and family life are now a part of company life too. It feels like business has got emotional. Why? Because companies can’t function without people, businesses had a choice to make, either shut up shop, take some government money and hope to weather the storm or adapt.

It seems like those that have adapted have done it quickly and generally the experience has not been as unpalatable as the press makes out.

Can we go back?

I’m not sure we can. What seems abnormal now will quickly become the new normal. Companies may well be judged on how they dealt with employees during this unprecedented period. Will we see a new kind of business emerge that is happier to integrate around it’s employees lives rather than the other way round? It’s certainly true that the kind of perks we used to think were great no longer matter. I for one would much rather have a balanced working life and time with family than regular trips to a bar.

There’s also so the obvious cost saving that will come from lockdown and the anticipated economic downturn. Do we really need 5 floors of central London office space? Twitter has announced regardless the outcome of the next few months that staff can work from home permanently. I doubt this is a PR stunt, they probably realised quickly that it’s made little difference to their operating model so why not.

Where’s the future?

6 months ago distributed business were real outliers. That’s clearly changed, will we now see a wave of people looking for roles only with businesses who offer mainly work from home? I expect so. Once we can get out and do things again working from home is awesome. The technology is here, the infrastructure exists we just needed a push and we got kind of a big one.

Values that matter.

Productivity is linked to the amount of time spent in the office, said no study ever. Clearly it will be hard for people to argue that anymore, if they still were. I think values will be shaped around balance and understanding in this new world of work. Organisations that can positively blur the line between personal and professional, being mindful of each and giving equal importance to each. I think that’s the kind of place people will actually be happy working in and as we know happy, engaged employees are the root to success.

Tools to make it easier

If we we want to embrace this new world of work, and we should, we’re going to need the right tools to thrive. That’s why we’re levelling up Amazemeet with some amazing new features like the Ai meeting facilitator. It’s like having a PA, secretary and meeting coach rolled into one, designed to make your meeting efficient and effective whether you’re in a bedroom or the boardroom.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings in the new normal

Try it Free.

Distributed workforces; The new normal

new normal

Talking about the “new normal” seems odd right now as nothing is normal. What’s certain is that things are changing in the way we work.

So firstly what is the new normal. Well as a phrase it was coined post the financial crash of 2008. It basically implies that something abnormal has become normal. It’s kind of apt that it’s become the word on everyone’s lips right now just as it was in 2008/2009. Yes I’m old enough to remember that vividly.

Where distributed workforces are involved it perfectly describes right now as most companies hove a workforce spread across home offices, kitchen tables and bedrooms the world over. And guess what, for a lot of businesses it’s not really caused much damage or upheaval. In fact the bean counters are probably sat at home working out how much they can save on office rents!

For years the idea of distributed workforces has been something of a novelty. Pursued by the 5 hour work week converts and zanny start-ups looking to be different. But quietly behind the scenes some companies have been making it work, and work well. Take Automattic for example, they’re the commercial company behind wordpress and they’re worth $1 Billion plus at last valuation. They have 1,000 plus people working in 75 countries and are 100% distributed. They would have been considered an outlier 3 months ago, but now we’re talking new normal are they the blueprint for the future of work?

What’s interesting is how many companies that are finding the enforced change actually quite straightforward. This enforced lockdown, in the UK at least, has proved to be a great stress test of the vital infrastructure, internet and telecomms and it’s all worked. Virgin media notwithstanding. It’s no coincidence that the Microsoft teams ad has been playing on virtually every TV channel around the world at most times of the day. Why? Because some smart person has realised that things are going to change permanently and working remotely will be one.

It’s perhaps too early to say what will happen in three months, 6 months or longer but what is certain is that we’ve discovered, albeit through a rather terrible cause, that we can work this way. Technology has been our saviour, once again. Working remotely also has other benefits, no more 2 hours of commuting, more time with family and yeah sitting in front of a computer in your pants!

So where does Amazemeet come into this? Well it’s the perfect time for an AI base software that helps you have better meetings. One thing is for certain that distributed workforces need the tools to work efficiently and that’s where Amazemeet excels. It’s there every step of the way to help plan, execute and manage follow on for your meetings and it will do most of it for you. Nobody likes people not showing up, Amazemeet ensures attendees are at the meeting prepared and ready. Amazemeet manages the timings to ensure things don’t spiral and it makes sure everyone knows what their post meeting actions are. In short it’s your meeting facilitator, personal assistant and secretary all rolled into one.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings in the new normal

Try it Free.