The Future of Productive Meetings: How AI Is Changing the Game

Unproductive meetings are a big fucking deal. And we've been stuck in them since... forever. But it's 2023, and that's all changing. AI is revolutionizing meetings. Done right, the concept of unproductive meetings will be obsolete. And your remote team can start taking advantage today.
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Emma Giles, Co-Founder & Head of Product
June 29, 2023

Unproductive Meetings Are a Big Fucking Deal

The average remote employee spends 10-15 hours per week in scheduled meetings. Definitely more if they don't have a workplace that allows them to trade 60 minute scheduled meetings for 5 minute spontaneous ones.

Think about that.

For a 40-hour-per-week person (startups, cover your ears), that's more than 1/4 of the total weekly hours. So that shit better be tight, productive, and only involving who's needed.

You know where this story goes, so I'll skip to the end. Most meetings aren't productive. In fact, unproductive meetings is like, a multi-billion dollar problem. Hours lost. Focus zapped. Money thrown off a cliff by meetings that...

1. Punctuate the work day, preventing blocks of productive focused work

2. Involve everyone, instead of the few people that need to be there

3. Don't stick to a purpose, so the focus meanders everywhere but

4. End without clear takeaways, so next steps aren't taken

5. Aren't well run or documented, so more meetings are needed to clarify or catch others up.

More unproductive meetings because of unproductive meetings? Fucked up.

So we're all invested in tidying that up. But to-date, that means some poor soul plays 'meeting manager'. Making sure meetings start, run, and end on a productive note. And if you've done that job before, you know it's a ton of time. A lot of energy. And doesn't really work.

AI Is Flipping The Concept Of Productive Meetings On Its Head

But suddenly, everything changed. You've played around with chatGPT. Hell, even your grandma has. And while grandma might be calling it 'the robot', and the space has a lot of hype, and there's some weird shit going down with Bing's AI 'Sydney'...

There are real, undeniable quantum leaps that have been made. And those leaps are going to revolutionize meetings.

This technology has the ability to take notes for you, so you can focus on the actual meeting.

Summarize the most important themes, so you and those who weren't there get the key takeaways in seconds.

Generate action items, so you can move to next steps and quickly identify missing ones.

Today, products are just beginning to incorporate this technology. And those that do it in a way that solves real, painful, time-sucking, millions-wasting meeting problems.. will save remote teams hours and thousands like never before.

Remote Teams Will Have An Advantage

Because a remote team's office is digital, it gets an upgrade every time technology advantages. And this, my friends, is going to be a year of major technology upgrades for digital meetings.

For remote teams, how they spend almost 1/3 of their time is about to go from unproductive to next-level smart. And teams going back to the physical office are going to miss out.

How To Find The Best Tools In All The Hype

The space is exploding. In the next few months, we're going to see a lot of apps incorporating AI into meeting tech. And on the surface, most are going to seem a-m-a-z-i-n-g. And that's because the technology is, indeed, amazing. But many will be cool technology that doesn't solve a real meeting productivity problem.

You don't have time to waste on fun-to-haves. So we've broken down what to look for in a tool that really will deliver on the promise to render unproductive meetings obsolete.

1. Does It Synthesize The Most Important Information?

Taking notes is time-consuming, yes. And transcripts are handy for searching, indeed. But the technology we're talking about is capable of taking in hours of meetings and pulling out the most important themes of what was discussed.

Look for tools that focus on giving your team the most important information, not the ones that ask them to sift through pages of noise to find it. These tools are thinking about the few things your team needs to save maximum time.

2. Will It Help My Team Move Into The Next Phase Of Work?

Meetings have a purpose. And once that purpose is achieved, we all need to go and get some god damn work done.

Look for tools focused on how your team moves from a meeting into the next phase of work. Action items, decisions made, topics unaddressed, questions remaining, projects defined. Tools that are thinking about how your team moves work forward from the meeting are going to take productivity to the next level.

3. Are We Getting Smarter By Meeting Here?

The technology we're talking about here is capable of more than making a single meeting productive. The same technology can be used to look across all of your meetings, to make your team more productive.

To identify trends (err, Bob is in 99% of your least effective meetings, wanna give him some feedback?).

To find areas of opportunity (your fastest projects are assigning single owners to more action items, and your slowest are spending 50% of meeting time away from the purpose).

It'll take time to get here. But look for tools that are thinking forward, trying to make your team smarter not just within a single meeting, but across all your meetings.

Wanna Try It In SoWork?

We're incorporating the principles above into SoWork's meeting tools. And because we're a workplace, that means your team can use them for the scheduled and the spontaneous meetings.

Join our smart meetings waitlist, or swing by our office for a chat.