A new beginning for Amazemeet.

new beginnings new amazemeet logo

Things at Amazemeet are certainly about to change as we embark on a new beginning. The next few weeks will see us launch a new brand, a new dashboard and a host of new features.

So let’s start by saying we love new beginnings. No we’re not pivoting to a haggis street food offer. We’re levelling up Amazemeet and in light of the new features we’re launching, including our AI meeting facilitator, we’re updating our brand and the entire look and feel of the platform.

Why I hear you say? We’ll since launch Amazemeet has amassed tens of thousands of users around the world, but that’s just a drop in the ocean. We’re laser focussed on changing meeting culture across the business world and to do this we need a tool that really makes better meetings a reality. Oh and we wanted a new logo 😉

What drives our brand?

The beating heart of Amazemeet is about helping people do things better. We know that all the time wasted in bad meetings could be put to much better use, whether that’s getting work done or spending more time with family. Money, profit time and mostly importantly well-being all take a hit in our bad meeting culture and sadly that’s a universal challenge virtually all businesses need to solve and we want to help.

Since the first meeting canvas concept was created by Amazemeet founder Mike Sutton the company has been on it’s mission to solve the problem with meetings. It’s one of the biggest problems businesses face but it’s often overlooked and even more often misunderstood. We love the new wrapper we’ve created for our product but it’s what’s really under the hood that will define us. A vastly improved dashboard and a host of connectivity options ensure your entire meeting can take place within the platform. This is hugely important as it ensure the meeting AI really comes into it’s own helping the meeting organiser start run and end the meeting process assisting along the way.

Share your thoughts with us on the new brand, tweet below and add your comments.

I think the new @Amazemeet branding is.. Click To Tweet

What’s the plan?

Over the coming weeks we’ll gradually be introducing the new features and switching users over to the new platform. You’ll instantly be able to start using the new features including the meeting facilitator.

We believe this will be the key driver to having better meetings. The facilitator is like having a PA, secretary and meeting note taker all in one. The facilitator is there to invite users, chase contribution, keep meetings on track and make sure tasks are followed up. It’s super useful and something we know our users will love to use.

We’ll also be going live with a whole host of new onboarding videos, live presentations and Q&A sessions to help you get the most from Amazemeet. Did we mention a new logo and colour scheme, purple rules!!

Wherever there’s a bad meeting Amazemeet will be there to fix it.

All that’s left to say

Well if it’s not obvious we’re super excited about version 3 of Amazemeet. But more than that we hope this is the next step for all of us to fix meeting culture.

Be the first to see Amazemeet version 3.

We want everyone to have #BetterMeetings

bettermeetings

#BetterMeetings, buzz word or important mission?

Image, Channel 4

It would be really easy for us to just throw around comments like #BetterMeetings, after all you’ll see it on all our social. But why? Firstly it perfectly encapsulates the mission at Amazemeet, we want to help people have better meetings. By doing that we know we’ll help them save time, money and improve their wellbeing but it’s more than that. Secondly is what we should all be aspiring too because meeting culture is frankly broken.

The crazy meeting juxtaposition

It’s universally accepted that most meetings lack focus, are unproductive and do little to motivate the participants. In fact it’s almost impossible to find any study that argues the opposite, however our business culture continues to increase the amount of meetings we have. If your unsure about how much of a problem this reallis then check out our post “The Hidden Cost of Crappy Meetings“. It seems more and more this is on the agenda, certainly if the amount of new blog posts is any indication. Hopefully our current predicament of lockdown induced limbo will bring the issue into sharper focus.

Should we stop meeting altogether?

Let’s get one thing straight, we do need to have meetings. It’s just that we have far to many and the ones we have tend to be pretty unproductive on the whole. #BetterMeetings isn’t about no meetings. In fact it’s squarely centred on a quality over quantity message. We’ve built Amazemeet to focus heavily on meeting efficiency, ensuring when we do meet it’s productive. Amazemeet focuses in on supporting what makes a meeting run well:

  • Ensuring the agenda is thought out and the people invited will contribute
  • Managing the meeting, time allocation and ensuring everyone gets a voice
  • Keeping track of follow-up and assigning tasks accordingly

What will #BetterMeetings mean?

To put this into context executives, when surveyed, think that roughly 70% of their meetings are unproductive, read a waste of time. They also suggest that they spend anywhere up to 50% of their time in meetings. So a bit of simple maths that roughly a third of the time they spend at work is a waste of time and unproductive and meetings are the main culprit.

Rather than write a nice list of things you could do with that time. Just ponder that for a minute. What would you do if you suddenly had a third of your working week back?

Are #BetterMeetings realistic?

We think so. That’s why we created Amazemeet and we’ve got 10,000 plus users who agree. But, to really change a culture something big has to happen. Much like the world is now coming to terms with flexible working and major corporations are starting to question the need for expensive office, that currently remain empty, we think a big change is on the horizon. Like most things is nearly always about the money. Smart organisations are starting to realise that this is a key area to boost productivity and stop wasting huge piles of cash. That’s the kind of motivation that really affects change.

The road to better meetings is simple, click below.

Best and worst of working from home

When I first started thinking about a best and worst of working from home post I thought about a roundup of what’s good and a name and shame. So i’ve written the exact opposite!

Let’s face it a guide on best and worst of working from home isn’t really an Amazemeet blog, we can do better than that so I thought I’d share my personal experience of working from home on Amazemeet during lockdown.

The background.

Ok so confession time. I work from home 4 days a week and have done for some time. Amazemeet are a distributed company with team members all over the world helping people have better meetings. so we are used to it. But this time has been very different. Like most humans we invariably don’t like to be forced to do things and I am certainly no exception. And of course we do have Amazemeet for meetings and communication, in fact we’ve used real meetings for our internal testing of v3 for sometime, more on that later.

The best.

Like most people working from home presents an opportunity for a much better work-life balance but to get that you need to be organised. A desk space, away from distractions, coffee, technology are all important factors as is keeping a schedule. It’s been amazing to spend more time with family, my daughters been off school, and connecting with so many people. As a team I think we’ve come much closer together and really aligned around our goals, not that we weren’t before. As you’ll have read previously though in our blog launching a new product in lockdown we haven’t had the luxury of sitting back and having some nice conversations with long lost friends. Although the odd one has taken place! The focus we’ve had though will be coming to life for everyone in the next few weeks as we launch v3.

Like a lot of people I’ve embarked on a few things I wouldn’t normally do. I now have a love of constructing cardboard structures and my daughter and I are seriously thinking about turning pro when it comes to lego builds. That’s been awesome.

The worst.

Where to start. Virgin media’s intermittent internet has been a real pain, Vodafone haven’t been great either, minor inconveniences I know but especially painful when you’re trying to work. Above the practical side not having the freedoms we take for granted has been a real grind. It’s very true that you don’t miss something until it’s gone but I count my self lucky to be able to go where I want and do pretty much what I want and when. Lockdown took that all away and whilst I was 100% supportive it still pains that these things aren’t available.

I’ve also had to see many businesses and people I know really struggle. Myself and the team are lucky in that respect as we’ve found ourselves in a business and sector that somewhat thrived with the world working from the kitchen table. Others haven’t faired so well. Many friends in the entertainment sector have had businesses close and dreams evaporate over the last three months. That’s hard to watch, especially when you can’t do much to help.

What I’ll take from this.

I think number one is never to take anything for granted. Six months ago we all merrily went along in our world we felt so secure. Fast forward to now and a construct that once seemed solid fell apart with alarming speed. Companies supposedly making healthy profits went bust in weeks, panic buying, food shortages. It’s funny how it all fell apart, perhaps that fragility is telling us something? I’ve also learnt more about my colleagues, we all get each other better. That’s been a happy byproduct of the lines between work and personal life blurring. If I had one wish it would be for company to continue to be accommodating and embrace this even when things are back to normal.

Amazemeet v3 is nearly here, sign-up now for launch offers.

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

Try it Free.

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.

Amazemeet version 2.0 is live and there’s more in store for 2020.

amazemeet version 2.0

When Mike started Amazemeet he wanted to help people have effective meetings. Why? Because he’d spent his career working with the world’s biggest companies where most employees hated having meetings.

The meeting canvas was born and this led to the development of the Amazemeet platform to open this tool up to anyone motivated to have more effective meetings. At first it was about being more productive but the Amazemeet team quickly realised that fixing the meeting addiction that’s taken hold of modern business culture was about more. Employee wellbeing was suffering and Amazemeet presented a perfect solution.

The rest as they say was history, 10,000+ users, amazing feedback but more importantly a simple product that really worked to solve a real problem.

So why Amazemeet version 2.0?

Like any product Amazemeet can always get better. The whole team are motivated to make meetings better and that means making Amazemeet super simple to use, intuitive and easy to pick up. The core of the product based around Mike’s original meeting canvas remains but Amazemeet version 2.0 packages it all up in an interface that user will love to use.

Amazemeet version 2.0 comes with a complete visual redesign as well as a simplified user expereince that makes it easy to plan and start your first meeting.

Amazemeet version 2.0 features focus on delivering the benefits of more effective meetings.

"Amazemeet version 2.0 is a complete level up of the market leading meeting effectiveness platform." Click To Tweet

As we look ahead to 2020 the Amazemeet roadmap is looking strong. We have a host of new features we’ll be rolling out to enhance the meeting design canvas. We’re hard at work developing an AI based assistant to add more value to the platform and this along with some other great features will form part of Amazemeet v3.0 which will land in Q2. We’re firm believers in the power of design, alongside v3.0 will be a further refinement of the design and interface to keep Amazemeet at the head of the pack. Lastly we will be launching our enterprise success platform which will be heavily linked to our better meeting community. The community we’re building is all about taking back control of our meetings and our time. We’re committed to creating a place where we can share best practice, learn from each other and support our community as we address the meeting culture problem most of us are facing.

One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is Amazemeet pricing. Every plan has a free trial, even the free forever plan!

Click below and start having better, more effective meetings.

Amazemeet is getting better.

Amazemeet is getting better

Wow the last couple of years have been crazy. So many meetings!

Wait a minute aren’t we all about cutting down on unnecessary meetings?

Well yeah but not all meetings are unnecessary in fact meetings can be amazing but on the whole we’ve lost sight of this. In fact we’ve made it so easy to have meetings any time anywhere that they’ve become like a millstone on our working time.

Amazemeet is here to help.

We’re here to take you on a journey to effectiveness, efficiency is great but we’ve got that now, it’s part of the fabric. So let’s pull our socks up and start getting effective!

When we launched the software we had a simple mission:

“To make meetings better”

But what does this mean?

Too many tech companies talk about better, but better is never truly defined, that’s not the case with Amazemeet. At Amazemeet better means more effective, better means getting the outcomes we want from the meetings we have.

Where meetings are concerned for some of us this means unlocking the potential in the 50% or so of our time spent in meetings. Whether that’s making them more efficient, having the right attendees to contribute to the goal or simply setting out what we want to achieve.

Our software has been designed to do just this and it’s getting better.

Over the next few weeks we will be rolling out a whole bunch of new features designed to make Amazemeet easier to use and easier to organise great meetings. We’d love you to try them out and tell us what you think. Sign-up below and we’ll keep you updated as we roll out Level-2 and you can try all the new features for yourself.

Together we can make meetings better for everyone!

Saved By Design: How The Meeting Canvas Was Born

I work with large companies.

By large I mean huge – most companies that hire me as a consultant usually have more than 10,000 employees scattered across the globe.

And they all hate meetings.

They hate organizing them and they hate attending them.

During meetings, they hate the lack of purpose, the lack of structure, the poor or non-existent moderation.

They hate that the wrong people are in the meetings – the people who can add the most value are often not present. They hate the endless circular conversations that achieve very little.

They hate that when decisions are made on some action to be taken, there is no follow up – no closure.

Great Conversations Don’t Just Happen

As a consultant Agile and organizational process coach – my professional life is spent helping people improve what they do. I have to be able to have great conversations with individuals and groups otherwise my job becomes almost futile.

After 15 years of consulting and thousands of meetings later, I have learned 2 fundamental truths.

All meetings are conversations but not all conversations are meetings.

Great conversations don’t just happen.

Facilitation is a necessary part of my work and I love it! To be able to help create the conditions for great conversations to happen feels like such a  fantastic privilege.

But how could I apply the years of experience and the my skills and process as a facilitator into something others could use?

“Help Us Have Better Meetings”

At an engagement recently, I was asked by a large multinational networking company to prepare and deliver a workshop on facilitating effective meetings.

I had delivered similar workshops in the past and I have always  tried to design a workshop that could impart my skills and meeting design process to the participates. With limited success.

On this occasion, I didn’t have very much time to put the workshop together and I worked well into the night to get it ready for the next day’s session.

Inspired By The Business Model Generation Canvas

Discovering the awesome Business Model Generation Canvas by Alex Osterwalder was an epiphany moment for my start-up journey. To be able to iterate on my business idea through some very reasonable questions and to be able to see the whole view all of the time was transformative.

Late on the Thursday night, fueled by what was left of a nice single malt, I mentally ‘walked’ through my design process for meetings that I facilitate. I extracted the key steps and identified how the entire process consisted of multiple sub-iterative activities. Then I reverse engineered my last meeting and checked why it was so successful.

At about 4:00am on Friday morning,  the Meeting Facilitator Canvas was born.

Workshop Tested By Frustrated Meeting Goers

As I put the final touches to the canvas and included the usage notes into my workshop slide deck I was a little nervous that my workshop participants – all battle hardened meeting goers – would simply tear this offering to shreds.  I was worried that they would see it as yet another overhead that they have to bear.

To my delight, the participants reworked some of their worst meeting experiences through the Canvas and found that most of them could have been vastly improved. Some of the meetings were even found to be unnecessary – by simply using the design process contained in the Canvas, a few of the meetings would never have actually needed to happen.

What I found really surprising was the willingness of the participants to accept that great conversations don’t just happen – that some time and effort has to go into facilitating them.

The participants were also full of feedback for things I might improve in the canvas – most of which went back into the design.

“Saved By Design”

A few weeks later, I shared the canvas privately with Simon – friend who works as an executive in a major financial institution and he really took to it.  He promised to use it at his next team meeting so I gave him the single usage sheet I was preparing and off he went.

A few days after his meeting we chatted again and he said their ‘meeting culture has been saved by design’ – that the canvas was a beautiful little design thinking tool that had given them a way to focus their conversation and they had one of the best meetings they had ever had.

I’m really pleased I created the Meeting Facilitator Canvas – if it helps only 1% of the people whose time is wasted by unnecessary and unproductive meetings, I would feel deeply satisfied.

Can It Save Your Meetings?

You have a choice right now.

You can choose to continue to complain about how meetings suck in your company or you can download the Meeting Facilitator Canvas and use it to cut down on unnecessary meetings and improve your the ones you need to have. If you don’t organize meetings, share it with those who do.

I’d love to hear from you when you start to use the Meeting Facilitator Canvas. It is free and open source – so adapt it, copy it and share it as much as you like.


Featured image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video .