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.

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.

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.

Looking beyond lockdown.

looking beyond lockdown

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

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

What will the lasting impact be?

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

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

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

Evaluating the change?

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

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

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

Having the tools to sustain change

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

Start planning for the future

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

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

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

Try it Free.

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.

Why should we work together?

team

How is your company applying collaboration, or teamwork, or collective creative process to the daily operation?

We normally have meetings for this: brainstorming, co-working, all sort of ad hoc or weekly, monthly, yearly etc. It’s permeate from board-level decision making close-door meeting to the open-space employee office, where they do their day-to-day, regardless of whatever job they have.

Collaboration can be both a cure and a curse to obtaining organizational effectiveness, specifically solving demanding problems.

As research showed, working together can be good for finding out unique information, for example: everybody tries and think of  ways to generate revenues for the newly introduced product. You’ll get a bunch of different ideas from individuals, or “the clustered network”, as they would not try to copy each other, as the goal is to come up with various ways.

However, when it comes to the part of interpreting the conclusions from information, interesting things happen: social proof. If someone comes up with the solution, and more people agree to it, I might as well adopt that – everyone think it’s true, it must be true.

From brainstorming to decision making, collaboration helps along the way, but not all the time.

Normally, the way we come to make a decision requires a bit of time, reflection, evaluation of different criteria and scenarios; gathering evidence, data we don’t currently have at hands – and obviously this process needs full attention and focus in order to be effective. Shortcut like social proof, pressures, or just in the context of meetings just won’t make the cut.

In fact, in the working world right now, with all the technology and constant connectivity, we are only able to focus for 3 minutes at a time. And I don’t think this is enough to produce anything meaningful (probably just enough to scan and tweet out an article)

Meetings are good for finding out unique information and finalizing  or making decisions after all the works are done. Lots of issues require more than one individual capability to be solved.

We should work together of course. But just like one doesn’t wear heels to run long distance, collaborate selectively.

What Is 37 Billion Worth To You

pig-money

37 billion dollars is a lot of money, even by the standards of the ridiculously rich.  

37 billion could purchase a major sports franchise. It could buy a major film studio and television production company .

To get even more specific, 37 billion dollars could purchase The Cowboys stadium 37 times over, roughly 30 percent of Apple’s entire stock, wipe out the debts of Panama, El Salvador and Costa Rica combined, 37 “Streets Of Monaco” Yachts, and contribute 9 times the budget of the United States toward The World Health Organization. Finally, 37 billion dollars could buy a one week holiday in Cancun for 10 million people who are reading this while fighting sleep in another terrible meeting. 

See what else 37 billion can buy: 11 Things The Cost Of Wasted Meetings Could Pay For

At this very moment 37 billion collective sighs have gathered in unison in consideration of all the things that cannot be purchased.  This might be considered an embellishment due to the fact that there are only 7 billion people on the planet, though who’s to say that there aren’t extra terrestrials out there sitting in awful meetings?  

The point to consider here is that no matter how you look at it, 37 billion dollars is a lot of money, especially when it is discussed in consideration of wasted money; money wasted on company meetings.

So, how is this figure determined?  

There’s the high percentage of employee and manager time that is spent in a meeting, thwarting productivity.  And then there are those who admit falling asleep or bringing outside work into a meeting.

If these findings weren’t glaring enough, consider that most employees have reported feeling more exhausted with higher stress levels at the perception of a higher workload while watching the seconds tick off the clock in a board room.

Wasted money is never a sign of high productivity and company efficiency though Click To Tweet

What’s more important to understand is how this much money can better be utilized. If the average cost of a meeting is $338, not including CEOs and other high paid business leaders, then wouldn’t logic follow that less meetings would be a good start?

Many of the so-called “brightest minds in business” haven’t even made this correlation, so congratulations; you’re well ahead of the curve!

Alternatives

To play devil’s advocate, less meetings could have an adverse effect on business if the required company information isn’t presented and communicated through the appropriate channels.

However, identifying a problem without a viable solution is no different than simply ignoring the problem, so let’s explore some alternatives to meetings.

There are wikis, email lists and groups, teleconferencing, and instant messaging. Collaboration apps and software are one of the more cutting edge forms of communication which allow the meeting to become a relic of the past.

The ability to share files, exchange information, and assign tasks are a convenience of modern technology which serve the same purpose as a meeting, though much more efficiently.

The statistics are glaring and if a business is to sustain and grow, it must evolve. Employees don’t want them, managers can’t afford them, and business has long since passed them by.  

There's no excuse in this day and age to waste so much time and money in meetings. Be a company that keeps up to date, stays relevant, and builds with what is being saved. Click To Tweet

What are you going to do with your 37 billion?

11 Things The Cost Of Wasted Meetings Could Pay For

wipe-out-debt

37 billion dollars is a lot of money, even by the standards of the ridiculously rich. What is the significance of this number?  This is the amount of money that is wasted each year on business meetings, thwarting the effectiveness and efficiency in good business practice.  Consider this figure in context with the following items that could be purchased with 37 Billion dollars.

1. Major Sports Franchise

madrid-team

image: wikipedia

At this price, the sports enthusiast could basically take their pick of any of the major sports franchises.  We’re not just talking about consistently losing franchises either.  This much money could easily purchase a certain Super Bowl winning football team roughly 30 times over!

2. Major Film & Television Production Studio

paramount-gates

image: Sarah Ackerman

Ever wanted to star in a major motion picture or television series?  37 Billion could buy Paramount Studios 3 and 1/2 times.  So instead of choosing between a movie or a television show, why not star in both?

3. Cowboys Stadium

Cowboys-Stadium

image: Randall Chancellor

One of the most incredible stadiums of the modern era could be yours for a cool 1.1 Billion.  Since you have so much left over, why not construct a Cowboys stadium in 35 other major cities as well?

4. 30 Percent of Apple Stock

apple-black

image: publicdomainpictures.net

Make sure you are always current on the latest and greatest in technological gadgets.  Anyone, who owns a third of the company should get first crack at all those wonderful new toys, right?

5. White House

white-house

image: Tim Sackton

The likelihood of becoming President Of The United States is slim to none though, who’s to say you can’t live like one?  For 37 billion dollars you could not only purchase the White House; you could erect 140 replicas in any city, anywhere.

6. Gold Plated Bentley

bentley-gold

image: Concavo Wheels

Since the White House has so much garage space and you have so many of them, why not purchase 37000 gold plated Bentleys to keep safe?  That’s what 37 Billion could buy.

7. Air Force One

air-force-1

image: Dtom 

When transport is significant enough to require air travel, why not hop on one of 70 Air Force planes.  Yup, that’s how many you could purchase with 37 billion dollars!

8. The World’s Most Expensive Yacht

Al_Mirqab_Monaco_2009

image: Pinponwa

Why not park one of your Air Force series planes on the largest and most expensive yacht in the world?  Choose from any of the 37 versions of the “Streets Of Monaco” Yachts that will always be ready for you to use.

9. Combined Debt Of Countries

wipe-out-debt

image: Images Money

While 37 billion can certainly buy a lot of toys and frivolous impulse purchases, it can also do some good.  Why not take all that money and wipe out the debts of Panama, El Salvador and Costa Rica combined? Yes, you absolutely could!

10. The United States Budget For The World Health Organization

who-logo

image: US-Mission

Philanthropy can become contagious, so help out the US by covering their budget toward The World Health Organization.  For 37 Billion dollars, you could cover the costs for the next 9 years.

11. Paid Holiday To Cancun

jump-holiday

image: pixabay

Most of us could most likely afford this now, if we could ever get away from the office.  This isn’t a solo trip however. This is an all expense paid vacation for you and 10 million of your closest business associates.  Time to get out of those board meetings and into the sunshine of an exotic beach.

Designing for Empathy and Other Meeting Insights from Paul Axtell

So we’re hustling with the Amazemeet app and giving the Meeting Facilitator Canvas around, but we were wondering what people – especially experts – thought of the idea. Maybe there’s something we’re missing or maybe their insights can direct us better. In any case, I started asking around and…

We got the pleasure of chatting to Paul Axtell whose book we greatly enjoyed because his values align with our own. For example, Paul talks about empathy and design, which are the most important elements in a meeting if you ask us. A meeting cannot be productive without strong leadership as well and it seems that Paul really knows what he’s talking about, so take notes and let us know what you thought at the end. But before we start, here’s what Paul does:

PaulAuthorPhoto

Paul Axtell is the author of Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations and Being Remarkable, a powerhouse of advice for extraordinary performance at work and in life. He provides consulting, coaching, and conversational skills training to a wide variety of clients, from Fortune 500 companies and universities to nonprofit organizations and government agencies. 

All right, let’s start with the interrogation! I mean, questions. What is the biggest pain point for you personally in meetings, Paul?

If you ask people about their complaints regarding meetings, these are the top three responses. People who do not listen to others (1) distracting behavior (2) lack of progress on agreed upon actions between meetings (3). The most missing points in the meetings I see are these: 1. Lack of visibility during complex conversations. 2. Leaving a topic without deliberately and thoroughly wrapping it up.

My personal complaint might be that people ask to discuss things that they have little intention to change.

What pain points do you encounter most often in meetings? How do you deal with them?

I don’t experience many because I ask for what I want up front in terms of how the meeting will go. People are always relieved that someone has thought about the best way to handle each conversation.

The old adage about getting what you expect holds true in meetings — expect more and you’ll get more.

In your book, Meetings Matter, you focus on relationships and conversations. Can you tell us more about how you decided to focus on these two elements and how they make or break a meeting?

After your core competency or discipline, the next skill set you need is conversational skills and relationship creation. If both are in place, then meetings are easy. If one or both are missing, then it’s is much more difficult to converse in groups. Therefore, all ideas about how to improve meetings will wither. Need conversation and relationship first in place first. This becomes more important as group size goes above eight.

You talk about “designing a conversation”, Paul, and we’re constantly reminding people that they have to “design their meetings”. Do you reckon a good meeting design could open up more space for empathy?

Interesting question…never put meeting design as a source of empathy together before. Seems to make sense. For instance, I’m an advocate of starting all meetings with this question:

“Does anyone need to say or ask anything before we start?”

This gives people permission to express something that they would like people to be aware of or address so they can concentrate on the meeting. This would be a generous way to begin.

It’s mostly the responsibility of a manager to design meetings, but what do you think of more collaborative ones? How much say should attendees have over what happens in a meeting?

Participants have a lot of say about process but it will go better if they are reacting to a well thought out design rather than taking the groups time to start with a blank canvas.

Speaking of canvas, could you look at the Meeting Facilitator Canvas and let me know if anything’s missing or could be improved? 

First blush, I really like what you’ve got. You have the most important segments identified.

CS-Axtell1

I did a webinar for Soundview last Tuesday and one of the questions was about ways to track a meeting. I’m not much of a fan of Powerpoint because it shuts down conversation and sets up distraction, but this is clearly something different.

What kind of digital solutions should managers already be using?

Powerpoints, iPads, video conferencing, audio conferencing.

Do you think “meeting apps” help or disrupt meetings? What do you think about The Meeting Facilitator Canvas?

I’m relatively naive with respect to apps. I do love mind mapping and taking notes in this way either on paper or on an iPad if people can do it quickly.

I’m in favor of trying anything and everything to make meetings work. 

The decision point is always, does the technology add value to the conversation or take away from the attention to the conversations that make up the meetings. The Meeting Facilitator Canvas can serve as a gentle reminder to not skip any key elements of preparing for and leading meetings.

How open are people to new solutions and habits in their “meeting behavior” in your experience?

People want to be better and they are very open to suggestions by anyone with whom they admire, trust, and can provide feedback in a non-threatening way.

Any parting advice for the people and companies who want more productive meetings?

Have fewer items on the agenda, invite fewer people, have a clear track going in and stay on track. Have someone set up to issue meeting notes within eight hours. Have someone set up to track all commitments made during a meeting so they are completed as scheduled. Talk about the right things — things that move your company forward.

Yikes, seems like the Amazemeet app can take care of all that. Once we’re done with it. If you, dear reader, want to get into our private beta, all you have to do is sign up on the main site

And thank you for sharing your insights with us, Paul. ☺