Meetings are not dead

Over the last several years, a bunch of applications have tried to kill off the idea of going to meetings. 37Signals, Slack and Jive have all promised a world where meetings would be a thing of the past, completely replaced by real-time, virtual interactions.

Sorry, but that’s not going to happen.

Increased information flowing around businesses means more communications within teams. Thanks to these brilliant tools, most employees now have access to more information than ever. So it’s hardly surprising that, if teams communicate more among themselves and have access to more information, they have more ideas, more projects - and of course, more meetings.

According to a study published by Bain, 15% of a company’s total time is spent in meetings. This proportion has increased regularly since 2008. In 2008, Yammer and Asana had only just been launched, Podio and HipChat didn’t even exist and Jive was in discussion with Sequoia to raise $12M of Series B funding.

Meetings: building trust within your team

People instinctively need to meet face to face to move faster and make decisions.  In meetings, we can truly see through people: understand their body language, receive smiles from our teammates, say funny jokes and in the end we create unique relationships.

This link is essential to solve a problem, go forward with a project and have confidence in the people we work with.

Business developers like to meet their future customers, head of states need to meet their peers and teams need to meet others regularly.

Today people communicate more but have less confidence in each other; this is due to the digitalization of communication and the unstable economic we live in. We need more than ever to re-establish trustful relationships in our companies.

How to get there? Meetings.

We run the meetings we deserve

There are no worthless meetings, there are only bad managers.

We have to learn the art of holding a successful meeting. There is a theoretical basis to be learned. Below the basic rules we don’t learn in school:

  • Naturally, meetings need to be prepared in advance, have a clear agenda and minutes must be taken (and actioned) immediately following the meeting. Let Google’s rules inspire you!
  • Don’t use the default meeting length provided by your calendar tool. A meeting shouldn’t last an hour just because Google Calendar told you so. Often, just fifteen minutes is enough.
  • There are times when organizing a meeting is never the right thing to do. If the goal is simply to share information, enterprise social networks are sufficient. Simple ‘alignment meetings’ of this kind can be toxic.

Meetings: an incredible opportunity to innovate

Well-executed meetings are fundamental to enterprise success (but everyone still hates them anyway). It is the last area of professional life that remains untouched by innovation and data gathering. Nothing has happened since the invention of the projector and the launch of PowerPoint presentations. However, the potential for innovation is huge.

Some genuinely cool examples:

  • Clara: a virtual assistant who plans your meetings
  • CharlieApp: an app that introduces you to the social network profiles of the people you’re meeting with
  • Gridspace: a box that records all the discussions in your meeting in HD
  • Solid: generates minutes of the meeting shortly after the end of the session.

We are going to be spending more and more time in meetings. Let’s use the right tools to ensure that our meetings generate more business instead of destroying our productivity.

If you want to take part in our beta test, we will be delighted to welcome you on board.