Using Skype for a video-chat is ideal. But meetings involve much more than just communication. Meetings involve preparation, the meeting itself, carrying out tasks and actions agreed and recording decision made. It’s exactly this type of functionality which isn’t available in Skype or Teams. That’s why QS solutions decided to develop a Digital Meeting App which supports the complete meeting process end to end.
Research shows that we spend more than 5 hours in meetings per week*. Preparing the meetings alone takes up to 4 hours which only leaves 1 hour to meet and then carry out all the actions agreed. It’s no surprise that these actions often don’t get done and that has a huge impact on how effective our meetings are. Many organisations are moving to a new way of working but continue to have meetings in the old-fashioned way.
Before looking at how digital meetings can help us to be more effective, lets run through the process of meetings in general:
The meeting organiser draws up the agenda, organises all documentation and invites participants. The participants prepare by reading the relevant documents and making notes of what they want to discuss in the meeting.
The meeting takes place with participants attending in person or remotely. Agenda points are discussed, actions agreed and allocated, and decisions made.
The meeting minutes are drawn up and any agenda points not handled are included in the next meeting. Actions are allocated and carried out. Any decisions made are communicated to the relevant persons.
There is also a difference between informal and formal meetings. An informal meeting is scheduled but there is little preparation required. There is an action phase, but any decisions made will be less formal. Formal meetings such as Board meetings are different. The participants will have to prepare more thoroughly, decisions made must be formally registered and the meeting minutes are also more formal and must be made available for later reference.
So that’s the meeting process which almost all knowledge workers experience on a regular basis. How can we make this more efficient and effective?
Online communication makes it possible to hold meetings independently of the location of the participants. This alone will reduce time spent unnecessarily on travelling. The next step towards improving efficiency is to stop printing copies of all documents for all participants.
Anyone who has organised a meeting knows the feeling; at the last moment there are some changes made to a document and all participants get a freshly printed copy.
Posting all documents online in the Meeting site makes it possible for participants to make electronic notes in the documents themselves. These notes can be kept private if required.
Meeting 365: Digital meetings in Office 365
Meeting 365 is an Office 365 app which facilitates the entire meeting process described above. The start screen displays all planned meetings and meetings which have already taken place. These are sorted into categories called Meeting Hubs. This makes it possible to group meetings together such as Board Meetings, Sales Meeting, Project Meetings etc. An overview is also displayed of all the uncompleted tasks from all meetings and there is an option to create a new meeting.
A new meeting is created with a title, description, time and location and, if it is a regular meeting, it can be copied from a template and repeated at interval. The meeting can be private to the meeting participants or public so that those not invited can still read any documents and see what has been agreed. Once the meeting has been created, you draw up the agenda, publish the relevant documents and invite participants. Documents are linked to a specific agenda point and uploaded to the meeting site or made available via a link to the document location such as a SharePoint site. Notes can be added to the documents using the standard Office edit functions.
During the meeting, participants are either present at the location or remote. Everyone can follow the agenda and see the content being discussed. If required, documents have been copied into a private folder and a participant can take notes which are not visible to the others in the meeting. Notes, tasks and decisions are linked directly to the agenda items. Once the meeting has been completed, the minutes can be generated automatically using all the notes, actions and decisions which are registered during the meeting. Meetings can be archived so that they are no longer visible on the start page but can still be referenced later.
Effective and Efficient Meetings
Meeting 365 was developed with the actual meeting process in mind and our objective is to make that process more efficient and effective by including functionality for preparing meetings and acting on tasks agreed and decisions made. It’s about much more than just communication. By supporting the entire process in a digital platform, we store all relevant information in one central location which is accessible to everyone. And that’s what really makes meetings in Office 365 more efficient and effective.