Breaking out of the bad meeting culture

Breaking out of the bad meeting culture

Sometimes to break a habit we need a big push.

Covid-19 could be the best chance we’ve got of breaking out of the bad meeting culture we’ve been stuck in for the last 10 years. That might sound kind of heartless but very often to really drive home a behaviour change we need a big event. A push to home working for most of the Amazemeet community could be just that. Let us clarify though, in no way are we suggesting that Covid-19 is a good thing but like most ingrained habits humans need something really monumental to force a change.

The good thing is there’s definitely a reluctance for certain kinds of meetings to happen online. We highlighted how much money these bad meetings cost in our hidden cost of crappy meetings blog. Spoiler alert, it’s a lot.

The meetings that tend to be the biggest culprits are:

Project Status meetings

As project teams become more cross-functional with diverse skill sets and people reporting into different managers there’s often a nervousness amongst project leaders around team communication. This generally results in the infamous recurring meeting. The problem is the information shared is very often irrelevant to certain groups within the project team at any given point. So you sit through a meeting waiting for the one thing that affects you.

This is the exact opposite of what Amazemeet advocates for meeting attendees to be able to contribute. Rather it’s much easier for teams to add updates to a shared drive, forum, slack channel etc.

Information broadcasts

These are those meetings you sit through where someone stands up and runs through news, company announcements etc. They are a big time waste. People read faster than they listen to unimaginative delivery. The irony is that if these sessions are done well they can work as team building exercises and help to develop a culture of two-way communication. Sadly 99% aren’t and could be handled by a page on your intranet, an email or a print out by the water cooler.

I challenge you to add up how many of these kind of meetings you have each week?

The good news is that when we’re working remote there’s a reluctance to have these meetings with such frequency. I’m not sure why, maybe remote doesn’t give the organiser the platform they crave. Or perhaps the organiser knows they’re inherently a waste of time and it’s easier not to do them when your not all in the same office? Either way it’s good news for anyone obsessed about having better meetings, like us!

The rest of the key meetings:

  • Decision making
  • Problem solving
  • Innovation
  • Team building

are super valuable, and they work online. These meetings tend to have actual outcomes as all good meetings should. After all that’s what we’re trying to achieve, effective meetings.

Our hope is that as we start to emerge back into the world from our home office cocoons that we won’t just slip back in to our bad meeting culture and pick up where we left of. There’s signs that a cultural shift is on the cards the challenge we all have is to embrace it rather than assuming it’s a negative. We live in a world that tells us we must be connected to everyone else all of the time, is this a good thing. Businesses used to function perfectly well with far ;less meetings than they do today.

Cast yourself back 25 years?

That’s a time before social media. Do you even know what a working day looked like back then? I challenge you to talk to someone who worked in a corporation 25 years ago and ask them about the meeting culture back then. How often did they meet, did meeting less affect their ability to do their job. The answers might be surprising.

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

Try it Free.

Home working tips, how to stay sane!

Home working tips

For some of us switching to home working has been very straight forward, for others not so much. Here’s some home working tips to be productive and more importantly avoid going insane!

Home working is now the new normal for most of us. For some it’s business as usual for others it’s a whole new world. But, there are things you can do to make it a whole load better. Here’s our favourite home working tips and remember keep having better meetings!

Create a schedule

It sounds kinda obvious but having a schedule and sticking to it helps keep work-life balance in check. It’s all too easy to overwork and get into bad habits. Don’t, it will kill your productivity. Why not try something like RescueTime it’s a great tool for keeping track of your time.

Set some ground rules

This is especially important if you have kids. It’s important that everyone in your space knows when you’re working and they give you the space you need during these times. But, don’t be surprised if the kids dive in when your Zoom has overrun into family time. It happens to the best of us ūüėČ

Have breaks and stick to them

When you’re in the office the amount of breaks you have is huge. Whether that’s structured like your lunch or the 5 minutes you grab to get coffee and chew the fat with Dave in accounts. Breaks matter, they allow your mind to relax even for a short time. It’s incredibly difficult to stay focused for long periods without a break and the quality of your work will deteriorate if you try to.

Create a space to work

If you can use a separate room from the other people in your space. That’s difficult especially right now when whole families are home on lockdown. Having a space to concentrate free of distractions will help your day run smoothly. The kitchen table on the other hand can be problematic especially if you’re sharing it with a 7 year old’s art project.

Keep in contact with people

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re cut off from colleagues. Jump on Slack or better still drop your work mates a quick call to check in. It’s important not to coccoon yourself into a bubble, just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re alone.

Don’t miss meetings

Just as you wouldn’t turn up late or not at all to a meeting face to face then you absolutely shouldn’t do this remotely either. If you’ve got your schedule down meetings play an important role in decision making and business as usual. For a lot of us the realisation is dawning that we can do our roles equally as well from a laptop in the shed as we can in our offices.

If all else fails!

If all else fails you could do what this guy did and make a fully functioning spiderman web shooter. We’re guessing he may have missed a few meetings along the way though!

Above all give it time, we’ve been on lockdown for a few weeks at most depending on where you are. If you get a routine in place quickly you’ll soon settle into a rhythm.

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

Try it Free.

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

amazemeet version 2.0

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

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

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

So why Amazemeet version 2.0?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click below and start having better, more effective meetings.

Making Brainstorming Work; CEO of Medium on How To End Meetings

brainstorm

Making Brainstorming Work

Image: jeanbaptisteparis 

To make brainstorming work, have two meetings to determine “what to do” and then “how to do it”.

Brainstorming if not properly conducted can waste time and creative juice.

To make it work, leadership influencer Dan Rockwell has a tip: Successful brainstorming calls for two meetings.

The first meeting is a ‚ÄúWhat might we do‚ÄĚ meeting.

The second is a ‚ÄúHow might we do it‚ÄĚ meeting.

Divide the efforts and focus maximises creativity and follow through. 

Originally from the blog of Dan Rockwell

Tell Me What You Heard

hearing-ear

Image credit: Paul Townsend

Explaining something to someone and not sure they got it – simply ask them to tell you what they understood you said.

In some cultures, the concept of “saving face” is very important.

Sometimes in meetings, when a person explains something and others don’t quite understand, they wouldn’t ask because they don’t want to be thought of as slow, lack of knowledge, or being distracted.

In other cases, it’s simply misunderstanding.

The consequences: misalignment, unclear expectations, may lead to recurring meetings in the future.

As you explain something to someone, make sure they got it by asking them to say what they have understood from you.

How To End A Meeting

end-meeting

Image: Robert McGoldrick 

At the end of the meeting, have a “closing round” to give each participant a chance to comment on the meeting and know where the group is at. At the end of meetings, have a closing round to give each person a chance to comment on the meeting. h/t @ev Click To Tweet

Ev Williams, CEO of Medium has a wonderful idea: The facilitator/host goes around the room asking everyone to make comments, say how they feel about what were discussed.

This allows people to get things off their chest and receive feedback about how the meeting can be improved. They might come up with ideas/ issues that are worth noted but otherwise ignored.

At Amazemeet, we have a section called ‚ÄúOff topics‚ÄĚ so these points can be recorded – have you tried that?

Closing rounds can also get the ones who didn‚Äôt have a chance contribute to voice their thoughts. And most of all, these rounds can be fun and positive they”re a great way to better meetings.

So try that out and let us know how it went!

Originally published by Ev Williams, CEO of Medium

Meeting Scheduling: 4 Tips To Do It Right

meeting scheduling 4 tips

Often time, the way a meeting is scheduled determines how successful it is.

This month’s productivity tips focus on how to transform your usual meetings ¬†into productive, short, and well-spent time – by reflecting on the old old ways of how they are usually conducted, trying to understand the design flaws no one questioned before.

Our featured leadership and time management influencers offer some tips to blow a fresh air into your stuffy, lengthy, and ineffective meetings.

Let’s dive in.

Parkinson’s Law in Meetings

time

A meeting is as long as it’s designed to be – start with the agenda, not time, and collaborate on making duration estimation.

Parkinson’s Law is stated as “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

In the context of meetings, the duration of the meeting is as long as it’s designed to be. If one sets out to have a 1-hour long meeting, it is usually the time it takes regardless of the significance of the agenda discussed.

For example : a manager wants to hold a 30-minute meeting to reach a decision, even though the decision can be reached in 5 minutes, chances are that the discussion will expand to fill the full 30 minutes.

To stop wasting time on this type of meeting, start with the agenda, not the duration.

Make it clear what the things are that you want to talk about – start with Purpose and Agenda, estimate beforehand, and together with other participants how long each item takes, then come up with the meeting duration.

Try this on Amazemeet’s canvas.

Start short meetings X minutes before the hour

clock

Efficient meetings are short ones. The easiest way to have a short meeting is to start it X minutes before the hour.

For example, a meeting at 8:40 that is scheduled to go to 9 rarely goes past 9.

One reason for this is most other events and meetings start on the even hour. So there is often an urgency to finish the short meeting.

And “odd” meeting start times are easy to remember.

I encourage everyone to set their device alarms a couple of minute before each meeting so they are not late.

From Jim Estill Рa Leadership blogger and influencer at CEO Blog РTime Leadership

image: clock

Scheduling Meetings like Warren Buffett

Schedule meetings one day in advance so you get to determine how you spend the next foreseeable 24 hours as you feel like it.

Badly timed meetings are bad.

Warren Buffett has been said to usually not schedule his meetings more than one day in advance.

Someone who wants to meet him will be told to call in on Thursday if they want to meet him on Friday.

By doing this, he can determine how he wants to spend his time in the next 24 hours instead of weeks or months in the future. His schedule is therefore relevant, not prescient.

Try doing this for your next meetings, the ones when someone just asks for your time and attention – not dependent on other factors.

This won’t make you as successful as Buffett, but it gives you the power to decide how to spend your next foreseeable hours, and puts you into a more pro-active position in how to conduct your meetings.

Originally written by Jason Fried

image credit

The magical 30-minute meeting

pinapple-halved

Halve the time of your normal 1-hour meeting to experience more focus and success. h/t @peterbregman Click To Tweet

Often we allocate 1 hour for most meetings, phone calls or appointments. Why should that be our standard allotment for so many things?

When we halve that slot – compressing time – people are more likely to: focus on critical points instead of stretching to reach the 1 hour by doing unnecessary tasks and having going-no-where conversations (think Parkinson’s Law).

Moreover, everyone will tend to be on time and come prepared (now that you only have 30 minutes!). Every minute makes a difference.

Most importantly, compressing time spent on meetings and other tactical work gives you more unstructured time to spend on activities and people you love.

Originally written by Peter Bregman

image credit

Mayalytics – measure and visualise your meeting culture

Ask almost anyone in almost any organisation what they think of meetings and they’ll pretty much all say the same thing – “We hate meetings”.

Whilst there is a lot of feeling that meetings are bad, there is often very little or no solid data to back it up in the organisation.

Until now.

Mayalytics is our brand new service to help any organisation measure and visualise their meeting culture and provides high quality quantitative and qualitative metrics to drive improvements.

mayalytics_by_amazemeet

Built to Visualise Meeting Culture

As we built Amazemeet we found we had lots of users but not many customers.

We also found that one of the key reasons for this was that decision makers in our users’ organisations needed data to see if they had a problem with meetings in their company.

Mayalytics was born with the belief that we could  help leaders and decision makers improve their organisation by giving them useful metrics about their meeting culture.

8 Key Metrics Right out of the Box – for free

Using the data we get from your meeting invitation and feedback from specially devised micro surveys, we add a dash of Artificial Intelligence to make sense of the data and provide 8 key metrics about an organisation’s meeting culture:

  1. Meetings per Month: the number of meetings per month across your organisation
  2. Total Meeting Time per month (in hours): how much time meetings are taking.
  3. Employees Meeting Time per month (in hours): how much  employees’ time is spent in meetings.
  4. Employees Meeting Wasted Time per month (in hours): how much employees’ time is wasted in meetings.
  5. Meeting Costs per month (in US Dollars): how much meetings are costing the organisation per month
  6. Meeting Wasted Cost per Month (in US Dollars): how much of the cost of meetings is wasted.
  7. Employee Sentiment before meetings (in %)
  8. Employee Sentiment after meetings (in %)

Incredibly Easy to Use

One of the best things about Mayalytics is how easy it is to use.
To get your Meeting Culture data flowing, all you do is what you’ve always done for meetings that you organise- simply invite an additional email address and we take care of everything else.

Get started!

Getting started is super simple and quick.
Our “Getting Started” video explains everything you need to know to get it started.

 

Start using it right now and building up the data you need to get these useful metrics.

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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.

Synthesis Work, Manager Daily 5 Minutes and Personal Goals in Meetings

outcome

Outcomes Over Outputs

Outputs are the “what”and outcomes “why”; always ask “Did your outputs make the difference that you expected in your outcomes?”

The 101: Outputs are what you produce e.g pizza, outcomes are what happen as a result of producing and consuming them e.g satisfy my hunger and impact are the effect they have, usually on the longer term e.g got fat.

Outputs are the ‘what’ and outcomes are the ‘why’.

So ask yourself ‘WHY am I doing WHAT I’m about to do’ and if you can’t answer that clearly consider not doing it.

If it is unclear/fuzzy ,take a little time to make it clearer.

In designing your meetings – consider the ‘Purpose’ as your ‘Outcome’ and the agenda and the actions as the ‘outputs’.

At the end of your meeting - did your outputs make the difference that you expected in your outcome? Click To Tweet

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Read more about Managing Outcomes vs Outputs by Deborah Mills-Scofield on Harvard Business Review

Stop Using Meetings For Synthesis Work

business-meeting

Use meetings to chart the course and finalise, not synthesising on the spot. h/t @helpscout Click To Tweet

Collaboration is not useful in every situation. When coming together as a group, people are better at planning and deciding on projects than creating separate pieces, and fixing them together.

To create and produce require deep work and alone time.

If you do this kind of work in the meeting, it not only makes the meeting unnecessarily longer, but also unproductive.

So next time, hold back from synthesising individual works during the meeting, do that in everyone’s own time, and only come together to decide and finalise.

Originally from the blog: https://www.helpscout.net/blog/bad-meetings/

The Daily 5 Minutes For Every Manager

5-sunny

Everyday managers would speak to at least one of their employees for 5 minutes without an agenda to nurture relationships.

“Managers keep a checklist of names so they don’t miss anyone and make this 5-minute talk a daily habit ” – said Rosa Say – acclaimed Leadership and Workplace Culture Coach.

Both sides will start treating each other like people as employees will share their family stories, their struggles and even ideas for improvement.

Managers will know their subordinates better as individuals, therefore gain a more accurate basis of judgment.

In the workplace, acts to facilitate employee-manager relationship are quite underused.

Making an effort to understand one another improves clarity of responsibilities and working expectations.

Originally from the blog of Rosa Say

Never Attend Any Meeting Without a Personal Goal

erik-weihenmayer

Have a clear personal goal attending any meeting. h/t @simpletonbill Click To Tweet

Ask yourself: as a result of this meeting, what can you know, how do you want to feel, what do you do after.

Bill Jensen suggests asking yourself these KNOW- FEEL- DO questions before attending any meeting:

KNOW: What is the one thing you must KNOW that you couldn’t get without attending the meeting? What information, action, advice?

FEEL: How you want to FEEL during the meeting? Included, active, to experience moments of new insights.

DO: As an outcome or result of this meeting, what is the one thing you expect to DO?

Don’t have the answers? Either don’t attend, or make yourself a clear purpose to address these questions during the meeting.

Originally published on medium by Bill Jensen

Image fun-fact: Speaking of setting personal goals, on May 25th 2001, Erik Weihenmayer reached the summit of Mount Everest Рand still remains the only blind person to have ever done that.

One avoided meeting is one successful meeting

“The best fights are the ones we avoid.” – Mr. Han, The Karate Kid

How does this apply to meetings?

Of course not all meetings are a waste of time. But half of them are.

Like if you’re going to a fight, and know that there’s a 50% chance that someone, if not everyone, would get hurt pretty badly, would you wonder: what if there’s a better way to settle this dispute in a more peacefully and everyone can avoid getting injured.

My martial art teacher always reminds us: when somebody wanted to challenge you for a fight, or villainously approached you on the street ‚Äď it doesn’t matter whether you can win the fight or not, you would say to them: ‚ÄúStop, I don’t want this, go away‚ÄĚ.

Ok, maybe it’s not that serious as getting injured, but the wasted costs of meetings in companies are quite¬†significant, 37 billions in salary for US businesses. To understand in figure a bit more in a comparative way, check this out: 11 things the costs of wasted meetings could pay for.

In the workplace, wasted meetings bring about not only loss of money but also hours of possible productive time as people could have worked deeply on their own.

In a great TED talk , Jason Fried from Basecamp said that employees don’t like M&M (Managers and Meetings) because their work time is frequently being interrupted, and that’s why work doesn’t happen at work ‚Äď they need a more suitable environment to create and produce.

At Amazemeet, all participants are expected to set Purposes and Agenda prior to the meeting, others can vote if this meeting is worth happening, or everything can be sorted out beforehand.

Give people their time to thrive, and stop having bad meetings. Click To Tweet

image credit: karate kids

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?