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Online Meetings in 2021: Here’s What You Don’t Know to Succeed!

You want your team to be better, but you’re kind of annoyed by online meetings? They’re inefficient? Exhausting? Poor results? You’re looking for something better? 

You’re not alone! Millions of people have this problem every day. And then what happens? Along comes breakthrough technology to solve the problem. We’ll show you this technology today.

First, let’s take another quick look at the crazy times we’re all living through right now. The pandemic has suddenly forced a massive number of people around the globe to work from home. Teachers are teaching in online meetings. Workers sit through exhausting back2back video conferences daily, and everyone has the feeling that this can’t be it. That it’s too much. 

Many people, even our children, are suffering a new type of burnout syndrome called zoom fatigue. It’s just incredibly unnatural to sit in front of a monitor for so many hours with a camera that only films you for everyone else to see. George Orwell could not have described it better. For many people, this is terror – constant surveillance.

As a team leader, you may think these are minor side issues, but as a parent, you know how much your children suffer from these effects. 

And you may feel that the sum of these minor effects adds up to a tremendous disadvantage in the end – one that could cost you your market position among fierce competition. Especially when other companies and teams understand more quickly that there are much better solutions available in the meantime. 

It is therefore worth taking a closer look. Let’s dare a precise analysis of the actual problems with online meetings and which technology promises a disruptive breakthrough.

Analysis of the Massive Problems with Sync Meetings

online meetings toxic meeting culture

What we understandably did in the remote wave of 2020 was simply to virtualize the toxic meeting culture of the 20th century, with all its efficiency problems. We have transferred outdated mindsets into the world of the internet. In times of emergency, that’s understandable, but it’s not innovative. 

Fortunately, however, this makes the issues crystal clear. I will examine these piece by piece.

Let’s start with the host. Who invites you to a meeting? The invitation power of the host begs the first question of efficiency: how do you attract participants if your invitation is ineffective? We see this so often today, even with our big corporate customers – high-level meetings initiated by important people attracting very few participants. 

There is a litany of other problems, and we can trace all of them to an outdated mindset.

The Pitfalls of Online Meetings

  • The host’s power of invitation is often not enough to get key stakeholders to show up at meetings. This problem is particularly severe in cyclical meetings, so sessions are poorly staffed.
  • Because meetings are poorly staffed, participants cannot make decisions. 
  • Information from previous meetings evaporates as participants’ memories fade. 
  • Information must be constantly repeated because participants were absent or can’t remember the content of former meetings. 
  • It is hugely problematic to find appointments where everyone has time.
  • Everyone is overloaded with too many meetings. 
  • Deep work cannot be done or is postponed until evening because meetings fill the day. 
  • When the team is in different time zones, it becomes even harder to find meaningful meeting times.
  • Technical issues make meetings difficult: network congestion, picture glitches, poor audio. 
  • Participants are stressed because they have to build their daily lives around professional meetings.
  • Participants can’t nano-balance their lives and work because of synchronous meeting blocks. 
  • Important meetings overlap, and participants have to neglect at least one of the two.
  • It is incredibly exhausting to continuously follow an online meeting – concentration wanes.
  • There is no way to record meetings and their results in a meaningful way. Summaries are insufficient. No one looks at recordings again because no one has time.
  • These many redundancies cost an incredible amount of time and, with the hourly wages of participants, an incredible amount of money.

These problems create an extremely uneasy feeling – something is going wrong.

Asynchronous Online Meetings – Problems Solved!

We’ve observed that in response to the COVID-induced remote-wave shock, an asyncfirst movement is forming. Many of the most successful productivity startups such as Zapier, Miro, Trello, and Slack offer tools to liberate workers’ calendars from these endless stressors.

And that’s where the key to successful online meetings lies – time-consuming online sessions must no longer be allowed to block employees’ calendars. This is a radical imperative – fewer meetings! Fine, but how then do we exchange content quickly? How do we not lose touch with each other?

And here is the radically novel answer that takes some courage: make asynchronous meetings instead! How does that work? Quite simply – via video messages instead of live telephony.

This sounds unbelievable at first because there has always been the possibility to send video messages via WhatsApp or Telegram. So what’s new?

Well, what’s new is that we now have incredibly powerful complexity management. People can participate in complex group conversations without losing track of each other.

The Simple Complexity Management of Online Meetings in timz.flowers

Online meetings

When it comes to complexity, the same rule always applies: make it simple without negating complexity. This is exactly what is possible with the flower paradigm of timz.flowers. People can comprehend incredibly complex issues and present them simply. 

This has unbelievable advantages. The world is becoming more and more complex. Technology is racing. Lockdowns and pandemics are changing the course of life around the globe at lightning speed, and product decision making is becoming increasingly complicated.

The only thing that can help is a system that can map the complexity but which is also utterly simple. timz.flowers is just such a system. 

Think about how you try to map complexity into your synchronous meetings. You project ideas onto a linear timeline where you constantly cut each other off. But that’s not how human thinking works at all.

When we are inspired, our brain lights up many thoughts simultaneously. That’s exactly how a conversation works. One person says something, 10 listen and have at least 10 thoughts of their own, which are all potentially important.

But these thoughts cannot all be heard because another topic is in the foreground. So one immediately forgets almost all of these important ideas. In synchronous meetings, most of these thoughts cannot be mapped; there is simply not enough bandwidth available. 

Asynchronous meetings solve this problem because their structure is similar to the brain structure of the participants. It is very easy to understand the principle. Complexity is not negated; it becomes easily navigable, and that will catapult your team forward.

Deep Work and Time Zones – No Longer a Problem

Personally, what drives me crazy is when I have important work to complete, but I have meetings all the time. I just can’t get my deep work done. It drives me so crazy that I feel like I’m getting sick. 

I’m not alone in feeling this way. We need to do away with these perpetual meetings that actually just keep us from getting work done while being totally inefficient. Redundancies, boredom, inefficiency, and yet somehow we need them because the human language has an incredibly high bandwidth. 

Well, all this is solved with asynchronous meetings. Even if your team lives in different time zones, it’s no longer a problem because participants send video messages to each other when it’s convenient. 

By the way, this also works very well with product reviews or feature groomings. Simply film the product or the screen with the sketches and comment into the microphone. Others can answer very precisely in the right places. Criticism, additions, notes, fact checking, warnings, praise – all no longer a problem. 

Injecting External Knowledge – the Key to Success in Modern Online Meetings

Now, I mentioned earlier that technological progress is racing. This means new opportunities are always emerging, and your team constantly needs to absorb new knowledge to be successful. In synchronous meetings, it is incredibly difficult to integrate experts because they are expensive and hard to pin down. All the good people are overworked.

Asynchronous meetings require a refreshingly different approach. Just forward the statement to the expert where you feel your team is stalling. The consultant looks at the statement, and if he doesn’t understand the context right away, he can just reverse engineer the asynchronous online meeting a little. 

Within a couple of minutes to process, he can inject his expertise. This is much more cost effective than the old models with their kickoff meetings and lengthy scheduling. All of that is eliminated, and the knowledge is with you and your team very quickly. 

We even do our virtual advisory boards that way. This massively accelerates our team’s success. It’s super easy, no one is stressed, and it’s a lot of fun. Check it out!

Raising the Quality Bar of Online Meetings

The asynchronous approach dramatically improves the quality of online meetings. Simply skip unimportant remarks, but replay critical information as often as you need. Focus on the essential, and the unimportant fades away. That’s an incredible efficiency advantage.

You can also forward important statements to others who hear them directly from the mouth of the boss or an expert. This has a completely different power.

The quality of statements also increases because people think before they speak. They may do prior research or attach a link or simply insert a YouTube video where a comment has already been made. 

You can also label or “star” the statements in asynchronous online meetings. That way, you can easily find them again. 

Remember all those comments in your synchronous meetings? It’s unlikely. They simply fade away with the limits of your memory. These problems no longer exist in async meetings.

Daily Standups in Async Online Meetings

Online Meetings standups

I would like to briefly share the story of our Product Owner, Katya Levina. Our team is scattered all over the globe. This is because we are asyncfirst and remotefirst. However, this leads to developers starting in Argentina when those in the Middle East stop. 

For Katya, this has meant two standup meetings per day. Since we are based in Europe, that meant one in the early morning and one in the afternoon. If you’ve done that for a few months, you know what you’re missing: morning yoga, a leisurely coffee in the afternoon. This leads to total exhaustion after a while.

Katya was relieved when we finally went live with our own tool – 80% of her synchronous meetings were eliminated overnight. Most of them are now done asynchronously, and even when we work sync-async (i.e. everyone sends their message in the same time frame), it is much more efficient and inspiring than a classic synchronous meeting. 

List of async online meeting benefits

  • No more problems with time zones.
  • No more scheduling.
  • Concentration on deep work possible.
  • The meeting result is always immediately available in recorded form.
  • External knowledge can be injected cheaply and easily.
  • Participants can nano-balance life and work.
  • Participants think before they speak, therefore statement quality increases.
  • The complexity of human thought does not have to be projected onto an unworkable linear timeline. Rather, it is projected into a self-similar form, which is much more effective. 
  • Participants can discuss complex problems more easily.
  • Meeting efficiency increases because of better statements and easier integration of outside experts.
  • It is easier for customers and stakeholders from outside to participate in the meeting
  • The meetings can be published on websites, so they can serve as Q&A for customers and stakeholders.

Conclusion

The world is switching to asynchronous communication. If you’re not on board from the start, you’ll end up on the losing side. 

If you want to be more efficient and effective with your team in 2021 – or simply more successful – switch to asynchronous online meetings. They may feel unusual at first, but the results will speak for themselves. 

Smart employees want to communicate asynchronously as much as possible. This allows better control over their lives. They become more efficient and can devote time to their families and personal pursuits. This is crucial to their happiness and motivation.

So if you want good employees, switch to asynchronous online meetings now. You will free their calendars from unnecessary ballast and from incredibly exhausting and needless meetings.

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