Big switch over day

The big switch over

Big switch over day is coming, here’s what will happen.

As we move closer to the big switch over day from version 2 to 3 of Amazemeet we thought it would be useful to talk through what’s going to happen and how this may affect you, if at all. We’re super excited about version 3 it’s a real game changer and a key step to having better meetings.

Phase 1

Starting today and running through to the 14th of July existing users will be asked to start switching to the new Amazemeet plans. As part of this an automatic 15% discount will be applied for anyone who switches up to the 14th July. This is good through to the end of September so if you’re considering a paid plan you don’t have to decide straight away.

Phase 2, going live!

On July 15th Amazemeet version 3 will be going live. As we’ve updated in the blog version 3 is a whole new Amazemeet. Anyone who logs into Amazemeet from this date will automatically be switched over.

Lapsed accounts

We’ll continue to communicate about the new launch to anyone that’s signed up for Amazemeet but hasn’t used the platform in a while. But, come July 31st anyone who still hasn’t switched will be cleaned out of the platform. That may sound kind of harsh but we have a lot of users on Amazemeet and dormant or lapsed accounts divert resources away from other areas of the platform.

Things to remember

Here’s a check list of things to remember:

  • When you get an email asking you to switch go ahead and do it. It won’t cost you anything and ensures your account remains active
  • If you switch before July 14th you’ll get an additional discount of 15% on any new plan you take out good until the end of September
  • July 31st is the hard cut off for anyone who’s not switched over to version 3

As every if you have any questions about the big switch over and need some help login to the platform and get in touch.

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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.

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.

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How to have great online meetings

how to have great online meetings

As many of us are now working from home, this week we share some tips on how to have great online meetings.

Most of us assume that online meetings run exactly as their face to face counterparts do but that’s not always the case. Over recent years the amount of online meetings has grown exponentially, making them a much more viable option for all kinds of businesses not just the kind of people you’d expect. Technology has played a role as has a changing work place environment and businesses general attitude to home and flexible working.

As I’m sure you know we’re all about better meetings and there are nuances to meeting online that it’s worth considering before you dive in.

Pick a platform, there’s lots.

This is the point you’d expect us to bemoan how the technology has facilitated our failing meeting culture but, we’ll skip that for this article 😉

A quick web search will throw up a large number of platforms available for online meetings, there’s loads out there, from the basic freebies to super sophisticated (i.e. expensive) software options. Our advice? Do your research. There are so many options, so take the time to work out exactly what your business requirements are and select a solution accordingly.

Once you’ve made a choice, take the time to fully understand the platform and its functionality. As with all areas in business, it’s imperative to plan and be prepared. So be sure to do a few practise runs with friends or colleagues, before your first actual meeting. Not being on mute when the dogs barking can be a little embarassing with clients in the meeting!

When you’re confident you know what you’re doing, here’s our advice for running an engaging and productive online meeting.

Communication is key.

Communication is key. This isn’t just regarding the meeting itself, but in the run up to it. Firstly, make sure you let ALL the expected participants the exact date and time. There is nothing worse than a bunch of people sat looking uncomfortably into their webcams waiting for someone to join who actually has no idea their supposed to be there in the first place.

As with all types of meetings, make sure you create and circulate an agenda for the meeting beforehand. Allocating time limits to each section can help keep things on track and stop breakouts that wander off at a tangent and throw the whole meeting out. Pulling everyone back on track is much harder online than face to face, so ensuring the agenda is followed is key. Time limits also stop sections rambling on and people becoming disengaged.

Assign a facilitator.

It’s a really good idea to nominate someone to lead the meeting (usually the person who has requested and set the meeting up, but not always).

Although you’ve spent the time familiarising yourself with the platform, assume no one else there has ever used it before. The meeting lead should explain how the platform works, as well as getting everyone to introduce themselves prior to kicking off the agenda.

Make up for the lack of face to face interaction.

We’ve all sat in those meetings. The really dry ones that seem to run forever and send you into a total stupor. Online meetings can especially suffer as there can be a lack of personality with not being face to face. Combat this with exciting visuals, video, sound and try to making the meeting as interactive as possible (remember, this is a meeting, not a presentation). Try and inject some humour (if appropriate) and encourage people to comment, questions and feedback. Many of the available platforms include the functionality for things like live brainstorming and polls, all of which help to ignite and sustain people’s interest.

Assign the follow up.

Finally, ensure you follow up the meeting with an email, summarising the main points of discussion, tasks and next steps. And, as always, thank everyone for their time and encourage post-meeting feedback.

Find a tool that helps you manage it all.

You may have noticed that running a great meeting online is similar to the a face to face. Albeit without the human interaction. A great way to ensure you tick all the boxes is to use a tool that helps you plan, run and action your meetings.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running online meetings and the enhanced functionality that’s coming with the version 3 launch will build on this.

Try it Free.

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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