How to Cut the Average Meeting Time in Your Organization

Meetings—online and in-person—are necessary, but without clear expectations and goals, your team’s time can be wasted. If there is any doubt about the effectiveness of your organization’s meetings, don’t panic; you’re not alone. In fact, employees consider half of the meetings they attend as a waste of time.

Many employees think meetings are a waste of time because they last longer than they should. Luckily, there are some easy ways you can shorten your organization’s average meeting time.

1. Set a precedent for how long each meeting should last.

How to Cut the Average Meeting Time in Your OrganizationInstead of leaving an open-ended amount of time for each meeting, establish a meeting length before the meeting starts. This will help meeting hosts and goers prioritize effectively and stay on topic.

2. Create an agenda and stick to it.

Organization is the key to effective meetings. Every meeting should have an agenda. Period.

Bonus: Consider setting a length of time for each topic and including it in the agenda.

3. Schedule virtual meetings instead of in-person ones.

Traveling to meetings often results in a big chunk of unproductive time. If you can accomplish something remotely, schedule a virtual meeting to cut out the travel time.

Virtual meetings can also make it easier to collaborate via shared drives or documents in real-time.

4. Only invite people that are necessary.

Don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen. Only invite people who are necessary, and follow up with others later.

Bonus: Follow Jeff Bezos’ two pizza rule. If you can’t feed the entire meeting group with two pizzas, then you have too many people involved in your meeting.

5. End every meeting with an action plan.

Have you ever had another meeting because the previous meeting didn’t have an effective action plan moving forward? Always establish next steps and responsibilities at the end of each meeting so you won’t have to schedule another one to reiterate.

6. Use collaboration tools.

Your meetings are only as good as your collaboration. Invest in quality collaboration technology so your team can focus on the topic at hand instead of troubleshooting problems.

Using these tips will help your organization cut your average meeting time. Share these tips across your organization, and set an example so you can continue on the path of meeting productivity.

Want to learn if your meetings are really effective? View our infographic, “Are Your Meetings Effective?”, to learn more now.

How ReadyTalk Supports Innovation

In an earlier post, I wrote about why ReadyTalk created UbiMeet, a personal productivity tool that helps people save time and be more productive. Ubimeet simplifies pre-meeting preparation and automates post-meeting deliverables.

A few days after I Andrea DSWwrote that post, Lead Engineer Luke Evans and I presented at Denver Startup Week. Our talk was entitled “The Hand that Feeds You: Starting an Intrapreneurial Venture”. Prior to starting at ReadyTalk, Luke was the technical co-founder of a tech startup in Boulder, and I was a product designer in the Innovation department at a 15,000-person global organization.

The following outlines the factors that lead to our success in working on this pilot project.

1. Funding: Being financially supported by a parent organization meant we could focus on building the product itself, not spend time trying to convince funders we were capable of building it. We decided upon a model where the team was given a steady monthly allowance to cover expenses so we could operate somewhat autonomously and quickly.

2. Return on Investment: ReadyTalk was interested in the UbiMeet product concept for more than just direct revenue generation. As the product is complementary to ReadyTalk’s core audio and web conferencing business, UbiMeet can also with lead generation and lower the cost of acquisition for ReadyTalk’s main business. We also figured out how to design and launch a new product with a small internal team. These non-financial returns were also factored into the success criteria for this project.
One consideration of being supported by our parent organization, however, was that we were limited in how much we could pivot from the original idea and still have it be of interest to ReadyTalk.

3. Being part of ReadyTalk gave us the opportunity to tap into the Expertise of those around us. At the same time, we had the flexibility to seek out external resources or adopt new practices if it meant we could move more quickly. We recognize that different teams have many competing priorities, and it can be hard to expect teams not to focus on what are already profitable initiatives for the parent company.

4. Before we introduced UbiMeet to the world, we had to decide how we wanted to represent its relationship to the ReadyTalk Brand. Initially we launched it as a separate entity so that we could make our own mistakes that wouldn’t reflect on ReadyTalk, and we wouldn’t be subject to the expectations that ReadyTalk customers would have. I also didn’t want us to receive too much support and positive feedback from ReadyTalk’s existing customer base. I wanted to see if UbiMeet could be a success on its own without that brand lift.
Eventually, however, we did release under the Ubimeet name (hence why you’re reading this here). This gave us the validation that we’d done good work, and it allowed ReadyTalk to showcase its new product confident that many of the kinks had been worked out.

5. Compensation can vary widely between startups and innovation groups. We decided to make things easy on everyone and not make any changes to compensation for this program. Luke and I received our pre-UbiMeet salaries as we developed this product. Given the fact that make of the returns were non-financial, an equity-split on the revenues of the product didn’t align with the value we were offering the company. Should the company decide to scale up this program and have several teams working on new products at once, there may have to be some changes to the compensation model so ReadyTalk is better balancing its investment portfolio. But for our initial pilot, this was the quickest way for us to getting something in place.

To recap, here is our Recipe for Intrapreneurial Success:

1. Create a dedicated team and pay them a steady salary
2. Give an allowance to remove roadblocks
3. Consider non-financial success criteria
4. Establish a separate brand to insulate the parent company
5. Leverage existing knowledge when available
(but don’t depend on it or expect it)

I welcome any questions or comments on how we introduced intrapreneurship into ReadyTalk. Of course, we’d also love your feedback on UbiMeet! Sign up for free at Ubimeet with invite code “readytalk” for immediate access.

3 Helpful Tips for Successful Audio Conferences

“Time spent in audio conferences in the U.S. is expected to grow almost 10 percent a year through 2017,” according to Wainhouse Research.

3 Helpful Tips for Successful Audio ConferencesAs the mobility of businesses and individuals continues to grow, more cloud-based webinars and team meetings are taking place online, making quality audio conferencing imperative for effective collaboration during these events.

Simply put, audio conferencing enables teams to get things done anywhere, saving you time, money and energy. However, all great audio conferencing comes with the potential of great disaster, leaving participants shocked and you embarrassed in the wake of a meeting.

To avoid these unsavory situations, use these three tips for hosting successful audio conferences:

 

1. Find a quiet location and call in on time. 

It might sound like common sense, but it’s not always practiced. If you work in a cubicle farm or a loud office, it can be hard to have audio conferences at your desk. Take some time to find a conference room or quiet space to call in so that you can focus on what is being said instead of focusing on hearing what is said.

It is also important that you call in on time. There seems to be a common misconception that calling into a conference call a few minutes late isn’t a big deal because you’re not physically keeping someone waiting. However, everyone’s time should be respected, so let the other parties know if you’re going to be late at the very least.

 

2. Own the mute button and understand how to use it effectively.

The mute button was designed to help eliminate unwanted background noise on a call while others are speaking. Get in the habit of being aware of the mute button when you’re on audio calls. If it’s a habit, you’re more likely to use it appropriately. Own it, use it, love it.

However, many use it as a way to eliminate the sound of them typing,  chatting, or working. While we’re proponents of the mute button, don’t use it as an enablement tool to get away with doing something else. If you’re attending a meeting, then be an active participant.

 

3. Consider investing in a microphone that hooks up to your computer to help with sound quality.

Many people are actually surprised to learn that people will continue to watch videos with great sound quality even if the video quality isn’t very good. It makes sense though; even if you have somewhat of a blurry picture, you can still follow the story since you can hear what’s being said. If you have great video quality but terrible sound quality, you can see what’s happening, but, unless you can read lips, you can’t tell what’s being said.

Sound quality is crucial for audio conferences. To improve audio conferences across the board, you need to invest in quality tools. A microphone designed for your computer can be a great purchase, making your video conferences more successful.

 

Want to learn more about hosting successful audio conferences? Download our eBook, “10 Times Your Audio Conference Was Ruined“.

The other way to ensure your audio conferences are successful is by investing in a quality audio conferencing solution, like ReadyTalk. Meetings are an investment of your money and time, so why shouldn’t you have the tools to support effective collaboration?

Interning at ReadyTalk

As I completed my junior year of college last May, ReadyTalk decided to take a chance and hire me as their marketing intern for the summer—and I’m certainly glad they did. I walked into the office not knowing what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised with the inviting atmosphere and friendly faces that greeted me on the first day. I knew on the first day that I would enjoy working here, but little did I know just how much.

As a journalism student, I was eager to drop the books and learn from actual marketing professionals in a real-world environment. While my assignments never involved grabbing another employee coffee, they did involve working with almost all the members of the team to complete several tasks. I worked on creating various types of content such as writing social media posts, recreating PowerPoint presentations and drafting the monthly customer newsletter. I also gained event experience by helping with the company’s webinar series. That summer allowed me to further enhance my journalism skills, but also sparked my interest in business, which led to my decision to earn my MBA after graduation the following year.

Due to my decision to attend school for an additional two years, I was suddenly in the need of another summer internship—hopefully another one at ReadyTalk. It was a great experience and a company that I both enjoyed working for and learned a lot from, so when the opportunity to return presented itself, I could not resist. With new faces in the office and new challenges facing the company, my second term was surprisingly different than the first, but, a good kind of surprising. Not only were my journalism skills put to use, but I was also able to utilize more of my business knowledge. I worked on large products revolving around branding, personas and events, which challenged me and will greatly prepare me for the journey ahead.

Working with ReadyTalk for two summers was the best decision I could have ever made. Working under such intelligent people and learning from them helped me increase my skillset and grow as person more than any classroom has ever done.

Patio.3

As my experience here as the marketing intern is specifically preparing me for my future, others have embraced the experience as well—specifically those interning with the engineering department. The engineering interns worked in a team of five to successfully synchronize all of a customer’s locations between the different ReadyTalk applications, making it easier for customers to use the product. Along the way they learned how to develop software using agile development methodologies and as a team rather than individually as well as how to use new cutting edge technologies that are not available in schools.

Coming from different backgrounds, many of them decided to spend their summer at ReadyTalk due to the well-known work environment amongst their peers. “Everyone I had talked to had come out of ReadyTalk with new skills and knowledge to share,” said Nico Pampe, engineering intern. “I figured that I should take the opportunity while I can, and it was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.”

Over the 10 week course the engineering interns learned to love ReadyTalk the same way I did after my first summer, and they even found themselves hoping to land a job by the end. “I really enjoyed working at ReadyTalk—so much that I’m hoping to return once I graduate,” said intern Ryan Dusina. And, he was not the only one. In fact, one of the interns already has a job waiting for him at ReadyTalk once he graduates.

ReadyTalk offers students the opportunity to learn and expand their skills in an incomparable environment. It has been an incredible experience that I will forever be thankful for. As Pampe stated, “It’s great to be an intern for a company where the other employees are not only willing to teach us, but also push us and are excited to see us learn.”