July 05, 2019
Meetings are one of those things that are essential for company success. But participants rarely have positive feelings about them. Why is that?
Our work environment has changed drastically over the past two decades. But the way we run meetings — not so much. Modern agile organizations are flat and highly collaborative, and most of the decisions are made outside of the traditional corporate hierarchy. Additionally, more and more teams are geographically distributed and communicate remotely.
By contrast, most meetings are still predominantly organized by higher-ranking individuals. Groups still utilize conference rooms to join remote meetings, and remote, voice-only participation is still a norm. And even though it takes just a few seconds to schedule and join short remote meetings, the vast majority of them range between 30–60 minutes and require advance and recurring reservation. This leads to calendar congestion and difficulties with scheduling time-sensitive discussions.
These factors lead to participants multitasking during meetings in order to complete their individual work. The lack of engagement creates a vicious circle of meeting inefficiency.
Anyone who tries to scale an agile organization quickly realizes that meetings are the bottleneck that slow company growth.
Traditional meetings are not scalable
To mitigate this problem, common wisdom suggests that hierarchical layers and organizational processes are added and a large part of the communication is moved to written form. This does help to keep the company growing. But rather than encourage collaboration, it reduces the efficiency of decision-making processes.
What if there was a technical solution to make meetings a lot more scalable and reduce the need for processes and hierarchies? Discovering this solution is what Meetter is all about.
We are concerned by the amount of conflicting and often misleading advice on the web on how to run efficient meetings. Articles provide tips to increase the effectiveness of traditional meetings but don’t offer solutions to any of the fundamental problems that those meetings pose. For example, many articles highlight the importance of meeting agenda, but research shows that introducing meeting agendas alone has very little impact on meeting efficiency.
Although we cannot resolve shortcomings with the technological solution alone, we believe that the rudimentary tools that we use to run our meetings are the key problem. They keep us in the past by cementing old habits.
Better tools lead to better habits
Research shows that the role of meeting organizer is essential for meeting success. We hope to increase meeting efficiency by making meetings smaller and more manageable and by distributing the responsibilities of the organizer across the company.
We want to empower every individual in any role in your company. To do so, we democratized access to the time on the calendars by making everyone an organizer and prioritizing discussions automatically. This eliminates the role of meeting organizer and aligns with the values of modern companies.
The role of meeting organizer is obsolete
Physical conference rooms are another outdated feature lingering in our workplaces. Conference rooms are inequitable when the meeting is attended by both remote and in-person participants. This setup puts remote participants at a disadvantage, as it is difficult for people to see each other and the input of remote attendees might be overshadowed.
Physical conference rooms hinder remote meetings
The best setup for a remote meeting encourages equitable participation from all attendees. As of 2019, it should be standard that every person joins remote meetings using a personal laptop, a noise-canceling headset, and a video camera.
By enabling video, participants can project and observe body language. This is important because effective body language is crucial for a meeting’s productivity.
We also think that the precise start time and frequency of regular meetings are rarely important, but scheduling tools force organizers to specify arbitrary start times and recurrence frequency. Instead, meetings should be scheduled based on their urgency and cause as little distraction for the participants as possible.
Exact time of the meeting is rarely important
Knowledge workers require significant intervals of time with no distractions in order to be productive. However, most organizers schedule meetings at times that are convenient to themselves but rarely consider participants’ schedules.
That is the reason why Meetter schedules your meetings during predefined hours throughout the week, and the rest of the time is dedicated to meeting-free work. Meetter takes the responsibility of prioritizing and scheduling meetings. We provide a quick and seamless experience where you can participate in many meets as short as 5 minutes within a single hour.
Collaboration between colleagues should not be frustrating or time-consuming, interrupt workflow, or include unnecessary participants. There is no logical reason for the perpetuation of inefficient meeting experiences. We believe that the companies of the future need no meetings of the past.
Our mission is to make remote team meetings the most rewarding experience of the day.
How Meetter Works
There are two new concepts behind the Meetter solution: meets and all-meetes.
Meets are similar to agenda topics, but with no specific meeting or start time. You just indicate the required participants, the duration, and the urgency level. These factors are all Meetter needs to know to automatically schedule meets during all-meets.
All-meets are blocks of time locked on the team calendar during which all meets will occur. The rest of the calendar remains meeting-free. Meets are automatically scheduled within those blocks based on their urgency, duration, and the availability of the required participants.
To get started, your team will need to agree on the best time slot for all-meets. Once the time slot is established, all members of the team are welcome to schedule meets and will receive notifications once one has been scheduled. To ease into this process, we recommend replacing one or a few of the existing weekly meetings with Meetter’s all-meets and then building from there.
Dynamic & Autonomous Scheduling
Meetter’s scheduling process is highly dynamic. To begin with, there is no need to select a start time because urgent meets are automatically prioritized while conflicting meets are pushed to the next available slot. Similarly, a change in availability will push the meet to a later slot where more participants are available. And if the topic of one meet depends on the outcome of a previous meet, Meetter automatically schedules them in the appropriate order. In a less than a second, Meetter’s highly distributed metaheuristic algorithm processes billions of possible meeting schedules and picks the best one for your team.
This particular feature alleviates the challenges of manually-scheduled meetings. Because our software knows the necessary factors, it can automatically determine the best time and order of topics for the highest number of participants. This helps your team complete your business in an organized and efficient manner.
Traditional meetings are notoriously time-consuming. The habit of scheduling long meetings evolved in a physical workplace that required in-person attendance and potentially lengthy meeting setup without the technology we have access to today.
But it takes just a few seconds to join remote meetings, and Meetter is taking this even further by letting you seamlessly participate in many small group meets, each as short as 5 minutes, within a single hour — taking only the time needed.
One of the side effects of recurring meetings is that they lead to calendar congestion at the company scale, making it very hard to find time for time-sensitive discussions.
Repeating meets scheduled with Meetter are unique: the interval of time between them will automatically stretch to avoid congestion and to accommodate more urgent discussions.
One of the major problems with traditional meetings is that people often get upset if they are excluded. The fear of missing out and the ephemeral nature of meetings leads to over-inviting as a courtesy to others. Crowded meetings are less efficient and more difficult to schedule and manage.
To combat this, Meetter records and transcribes all non-sensitive meets. It shares the recording and transcription of each meet with all topic followers, along with collaboratively crafted notes. It lessens the pressure to attend the meeting and ensures that everyone involved is up-to-date on the topic even if they were unable to attend.
How Meetter Scales
Meetter is one of those things that you need to try to see all the benefits. But to give you a basic idea, here is a simple example. Imagine you are part of a team of four, and that your team has 5 topics to discuss. Most commonly, this situation would lead to a single meeting with a list of topics to be addressed one by one. The problem with that approach is that even though there are topics that require only two participants, all of the four people present will be forced to spend their time in that meeting.
Now, here is how it works with Meetter. Each discussion topic will have its own session within the all-meets. Only the participants responsible for that discussion topic will partake in that meet. This means that the four participants may be divided into two separate meets, addressing their discussion topics, but may come together in another meet if that is required. The app organizes this process automatically. As you can see in the diagram, your team saved 70 minutes using this system.
How much time can be saved for a team of dozens? Or how much more can your remote team accomplish during the limited time at the intersections of timezones? There’s no need to guess. Try Meetter for free by signing up for a 14-day trial!
Written by Gene Podolyak
Follow Gene on Twitter