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The Evolution of the Meeting

From the notification alerts that prod us in the mornings to the last-minute meeting jammed into the end of the day, we all often feel like we've become professional meeting attenders. According to the National Statistics Council, 37% of the time spent at work is in meetings. That roughly translates into an average of 62 meetings a month. If we're all meeting that often during business hours, when does the actual work get done?

The Old Way of Meeting

Once upon a time, people in suits sat around a table and updated each other on their work. The purpose of a meeting was to exchange information. And back then, that was sufficient. Then, the world got bigger and businesses had to follow suit.

Customers and vendors were no longer just local as technology made it easier to connect with people around the world. Business hierarchies evolved, from simple linear structures into interconnected networks of teams and stakeholders. As the workforce became more mobile, people no longer just worked in physical offices, but at home, on the road, and from offices in other parts of the world.

With all these moving parts and the growing number of people involved, businesses required more coordination and collaboration. They responded by having more meetings.

More Meetings, Same Problems

More meetings don't translate into an increase in productivity. A Clarizen/Harris survey discovered that 40% of people thought status update meetings were a waste of time, and an astounding 70% felt that meetings didn't help them get any work done.

That's probably because most meetings spend too much time reviewing details of a project or outlining tasks, information that should be readily available outside of a meeting. Meetings become focused on transferring information between parties rather than leveraging that information for something more productive and collaborative. If we're going to meet as often as we do, we need to rethink the meeting.

The More Collaborative Meeting

The people you work with are, in and of themselves, valuable resources. Think of the expertise and experience gathered together during a meeting. Why not leverage those resources and get the best ideas and perspectives?

Instead of updating each other on projects or reviewing responsibilities, meetings can become an opportunity for creativity and idea generation. Leaning on the combined expertise of your team can lead to ideas that could surprise everybody and open new avenues of exploration. It's that diversity of ideas that empowers innovation and trust. It's a shift away from a meeting culture built around exchanging information to a culture focused on creative collaboration. The meeting becomes a microcosm of how your business should operate.

Adapting Technology to the Meeting

As meetings become more collaborative, technology will need to keep up. The last few decades have seen an unprecedented communication technology boom, but many of these solutions still focus on the way people used to meet -- people sitting around a table and moving information between parties. Those solutions haven't been adapted to work in a collaborative and more active environment.

In a meeting, we primarily communicate ideas through voice. Most audio conferencing systems rely on proximity to capture sound. If you're not close by, you simply just aren't heard. That can be difficult in a collaborative environment as people move around, sketch on whiteboards and use displays in other areas of the room. For truly effective collaboration, the next generation of audio conferencing needs to adapt to this new meeting reality.

The Future of Meetings

It's not about meeting less. It's about meeting better. You're all in the meeting together. Leverage that brain power. Bring together a diverse range of people and expertise for a diverse range of ideas. And make sure your audio conferencing technology can keep up. In rethinking the purpose of meetings, you can turn peak meetings into peak innovation.

For more information on the future of audio conferencing technology that works the way you work, check out the report, "Making a Sound Decision for Next-Generation Team Collaboration," sponsored by Nureva and produced by No Jitter.