When a meeting experience is inefficient and unsatisfactory, people’s time is wasted, engagement is affected, and productivity is hit. Meeting technology provider Decisions has been working to make meetings more efficient and effective. It has developed features that can be used within Microsoft Teams, including structured agendas and a Speak Now capability, which allows meeting participants to enter the discussion in an orderly and uninterrupted manner.
On top of its quest for efficiency, Decisions has now shifted its focus towards increasing the quality of meetings and the back-end processes, with the goal of boosting participant engagement and getting better output. And it is doing this through its new Meeting Engagement Score.
“It’s not just about getting to a level where you have fewer meetings or are more efficient, it’s also about actually changing people’s behaviour around meetings,” says Jørgen Solberg, founder and CEO of Decisions. “That’s what the Meeting Engagement Score is about: making sure that we nudge people towards, for instance, coming prepared to a meeting.”
Solberg and his team built an algorithm based on behavioural economic science to tell users if a team is prepared and the likelihood of having a quality meeting with the proper outcome. The score rates groups of users on a scale from zero to 100 based on their preparedness. But what does this look like for the user?
“Users can see a score associated with the agenda of a meeting,” explains Solberg. “If, for example, that score is 40, which might be lower than usual, they can ask themselves if they are ready to make that decision or whether it needs more thought and preparation before designating a whole meeting to it.
“There are many factors involved in calculating that score. For example, did someone upload the presentation the night before so that no one had chance to look at it? How much have you engaged with the agenda and the communication around the agenda in advance of the meeting? Does the agenda have enough context for people can effectively engage with it?”
The score can also be used to track a meeting series, for example, and show how meeting engagement is changing over time.
“If team leaders or meeting administrators notice the score deteriorating over time, it gives them the opportunity to understand why participants are losing focus and rectify it,” says Solberg. “We have seen a pattern that engagement in a recurring meeting deteriorates when administrators or team leaders do not make changes to the agenda or the way the meeting is run.
“The numbers are telling us that, if you have a standing meeting series like this, you must make regular changes to the way you run them to ensure everyone gets the most from them. You need to keep things fresh to keep people engaged.”
Customers are already using the Meeting Engagement Score and have noticed its benefits in boosting participant engagement and energy within the meeting, which is also improving decision-making and productivity.
“Overall, we’re seeing that this score is changing behaviour,” says Solberg. “By using the Decisions tool, people are coming to meetings more prepared, which enables better conversations around the topics under discussion,” says Solberg. “Our customers are also telling us that it’s a great tool to give administrators new insights so that they can, for example, send out an extra notification to get people onboard ahead of time.”
With increased numbers of employees working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, many may have become accustomed to using their computer during meetings for other tasks – something that would not be possible during in-person interactions.
“This new working environment has caused meeting habits to change,” says Solberg. “Because of this, we are working on a strategy to use artificial intelligence (AI) to understand meeting culture and these habits.
“I think there is a risk now that meeting culture in general is deteriorating because of this hybrid and remote set-up. When we can ‘hide’ behind our screens, we don’t have that social pressure to be present and ultimately it affects the output of the meeting.”
Through its new AI-based strategy and Meeting Culture.AI platform – which it plans to launch in 2021 – Decisions aims to help its users improve their behaviour around meetings.
“For example, it could give you insight into your own behaviour at meetings, and how you can improve your multitasking or follow-up procedures,” says Solberg. “It’s not just about being productive. It’s a smart platform for driving organisations towards a better meeting culture overall.”
This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.
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