Five tips for facilitating better meetingsContinue reading
So this week we had a cancelled meeting, it’s a good thing and here’s why.
Meetings need purpose, this week we had a cancelled meeting and the first thing we did was circulate a note to everyone saying well done. Why, because a meeting without purpose, goals and clear direction is a waste of time. Cancelling meetings is the first step to better meetings. We use Amazemeet to plan all our meetings which helps immeasurably, but there are simple steps you can follow to work out whether hitting cancle is the right thing to do.
10 reasons to cancel
Try this simple check list the next time you see a meeting invite and the sinking feeling takes hold:
- The meeting is being held because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”
- There are no decisions that need to be made
- You don’t really know who will show up
- The outcomes are undetermined and unpredictable
- There was zero prep work for anybody for the meeting
- It is an information-only or roundtable-type meeting
- No one is assigned to take and distribute meeting notes
- You haven’t communicated the meeting expectations to the participants
- You look for agenda items and don’t come up with anything of substance
- The only reason you are having it is because it is already on your calendar
One of these should be enough, two or more and it should be game over.
Put the fear aside
It seems crazy but the first point on the list above is probably the hardest to get over. Cultural and organisational norms are hard to overcome, it takes courage to stand up and say no to something when that’s the way it’s always been. But, take heart, set aside your fear of looking disorganised and raise your concerns. You may find the oposite is true and that your cancel makes you look organised prioritising your work over time wasted.
Time to learn
A cancelled meeting should happen for a clear reason. It’s only powerful if you learn from this, taking the why and making sure the mistakes aren’t repeated. If you take a holistic views of your meetings you should be considering their costs. Time costs money in any business and quantifying this can help to ensure you shape your meetings for maximum impact. Don’t make the same mistakes twice. Meetings should have purpose and outcomes otherwise it’s just people in a room or on zoom talking to each other.
Make sure your meetings work with Amazemeet.
In last week’s post we talked about the future of work here’s part 2.
With Covid as the catalyst from the outside it seems the promised land of flexible working is upon us. But, the future of work may not be quite as rosy. Why? People will likely be the barrier. It’s as easy to argue a future where employees get exactly what they want, productivity goes up, and better meetings are had. It’s not that simple.
People will make the change
The question is will they? For every person that’s revelled in flexible working there’s a company for whom it’s been a struggle. People generally fear change and the change required to go from office based to a fully flexible model is a big one. Technology aside, we’ve proved it works, larger organisation have honed their management process over long periods. Do they work flexibly? There’s also the control issue. It’s very easy to say you don’t trust your employees if you don’t let them work flexibly. But, the answer is more nuanced. It’s hard to unpick what’s been ingrained for so long.
Finding balance will be the key
I don’t see a world where we’re all working flexibly. I see a world we employees and employers will be able to set the terms of flexibility within a framework. Some office days required, especially for the kind of face to face meetings that do need to happen. It’s likely forward thinking companies will set out how they want their employees to interact, not something they’ve had to pay much attention to when everyone is in the office. But if we want to bring in flexibility it has to work for everyone not just a few. I remember a talk given by a well know software company founder. They were a fully distributed business but they’d tried a few options, a bit of this a bit of that, leaving it to employees to dictate. It didn’t work. They realised they had to go all in with one model, fully remote worked for them but for others it will be different.
That’s the key to this future of work I feel. It’s not about just saying yes, it’s about businesses making a concious decision to work in a certain way. That decision is tough if it steps outside the norm because to make it work requires the whole way the company functions to adapt.
Happier employees are more productive. But employees that feel in control of their destiny and in equal partnership with their employees are even happier. Everything is geared to output. It’s easy to say but most employers don’t measure people on productivity as a sole indicator of success. Just turning up is still a factor. This is where a real shift comes in because it opens up a whole new area of scrutiny. I think getting it right will reap rewards for employers not just in terms of output but in terms of attractiveness to the right talent. Not everyone can work at companies that pay mega bucks and most employers can’t pay mega bucks. So competing on the quality of the environment, work life balance and overall happiness is a great next step. In fact something that may well become the attribute people look for more than simply the cash.
The future of work needs technology like Amazemeet, try it now.
Has the future of work become reality? Or will we be back to the commute in 6 months time?
The future of work has never been more in the spotlight. The majority of businesses have been forced into flexible working and are now in the midst of the biggest experiment into working practices they’ve ever seen. The team at Amazemeet are no exception to this, we’ve been having better meetings at an alarming rate! The times we’re living through have heralded the dawn of a new future of work with flexibility at its heart for some, for others this is a temporary blip for business as usual.
But who’s right? Will there be significant change in how employees are viewed and managed, will we embrace the flexible model or will we slowly retreat back to our office based habits as we emerge from lockdown?
The situation pre-Covid
As humans we are always looking for patterns and symbolism, it seems pre and post-Covid will be terms entering our everyday lexicon if they have not already. But, let’s look back at the world of work before Covid changed the world. For years flexible work and a changing world of work seemed like a happy nirvana that was easily in reach for the majority of the workforce, we just had to take the plunge. The reality of course was quite different. Dispight all the PR mileage very few companies actually offered flexible work and ran distributed teams with a few outlying exception such as Automatic the team behind wordpress. Quite frankly the majority of companies didn’t want to take the risk. Flexible work simply became one of those phrases on a job ad alongside free drinks and fusball table as many employees would find out the hard way. But what was driving this? A lack of employee trust, lack of infrastructure or simply an ingrained working methodology driven top down that was inescapable?
The answer is probably all of the above. Whatever the reason a truly flexible workplace was in most cases confined to the blogs who extolled its benefits. Despite the fact that virtually every survey you care to read indicated that employee wellbeing, happiness, was directly correlated with performance. Happy staff, performing company. (Not sure that’s a saying but it’s true!) So armed with this knowledge we can only assume that legacy and fear of change were barriers to a change in working practices, quite frankly a change long overdue as the arcane practise of the daily trudge to the office should have been resigned to history years ago.
Covid changed all that
Suddenly though that change was forced. Lockdown measures, work from home orders kicked in and companies had to adapt and the smart ones are already reflecting on the outcome. For some it’s been a nightmare for others seamless. The early hutzpah does however seem to have faded. In the early stages organisations were keen to tell how much they could save, how little impact they’d felt but was this simply great PR to keep us the public from panicking that our bank was about to collapse or that our personal data was being managed on a kitchen table somewhere? All too readily had plans been put in place for a return to the office. It seemed the flexible honeymoon was about to end.
But will it?
Some organisations have embraced the situation and have actively re-evaluated their relationships with their employees. Twitter may never ask employees to regularly attend the office again, Siemens has established mobile working 2-3 days a week as a core component and is using it to drive change in it’s leadership and culture. But who else?
I believe the model that will win out will be one of flexibility, no pu intended. There’s no doubt that human interactions face to face have advantages over online meetings. Sitting at a desk and getting on with things however is a different story. Maybe Siemens have the answer or maybe it should be up to the employees to decide. Beneath this however there are cultural changes and management changes that need to happen alongside adoption of technology and simply taking the plunge. All three areas need to be in place to successfully embrace a flexible if not fully distributed working model. What is for certain however is the cat is out of the bag, employees who’ve had a taste of flexible working will be far less inclined to want to go back. In fact I can see true flexibility being a cornerstone of job searches and it’s clear employee churn will be a challenge for those not opting to change.
At Amazemeet our focus is on those interactions, those meetings. We know for certain that whether face to face or remote technology needs to play it’s part to ensure we work towards outcomes.
Re-evaluating what’s important
It’s hard to judge how good an experience will be until you try it. This is certainly true of remote working. Now we have many of us like it, really like it. Pre-Covid i could see an argument for taking the office job that paid £10k more a year over the flexible job because we’re naturally risk averse and we have now frame of reference. Now that’s changed it would argue the latter is a much more attractive option for most. The grassroots is often the driver of many a change and people vote with their feet. The next 3-5 years could see a real shift. Sure if you’re 25, no kids and single the attractive city job is a no-brainer but what about when you’re 35, married with a kid and plans for a second? You’re also likely further up the food chain experience wise, you may therefore pose a bigger loss. Even writing this though I feel a certain bias dictated by age, if we all just focussed on output rather than time spent!
In my mind that’s the biggest hurdle leadership needs to overcome. A change from time spent to output, goals met will be the driver. Amazemeet is deisgned to do just that, focus on the outcome not the time spent getting there. If we simply embraced that at every level of an organisation who cares how much time you spend at your desk.
Chances are you’ll be performing better anyway.
The future of work needs technology like Amazemeet, try it now.
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.
#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.
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.
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
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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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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.