What Is a Meeting?

By: Iain Sinnott - Head of International Carrier Sales at Enreach for Service Providers

The efficiency of a meeting is not just about time and travel costs. It is also about the outcomes and perhaps the contribution to a closer relationship that brings future inspiration, but have you got your balance right?

Under pandemic conditions, I – like everyone else – conducted the majority of my business in virtual meetings. In truth, virtual working was already a big part of my life as the sales of an OSS/BSS solution to BroadSoft platform owners in three continents had almost exclusively been done over eight years through virtual meetings. So the change was, in principle, not a big one for me to make.

As the weeks passed, more and more knowledge workers reported on LinkedIn that they actually felt more efficient working remotely. It has been no surprise that the levels of hybrid working are remaining so high. Now, as the dust is settling, I am interested to see if the conversation regarding meetings – 1:1 or group – switches from the practicalities to the outcomes, because I think it is a subject worthy of real investigation.

We were forced to learn that almost all meetings can be virtual, we have discovered that although sometimes technically challenging most meetings can be hybrid, and we can still think back to the time when most meetings were face to face. So now with choices understood, what choice do we make?

When we sell products to customers, they are actually buying the outcomes. When we agree to meet with people, there will again be outcomes in mind – but which outcomes are best served by which kind of meeting?

Let me suggest a few meeting types (I realize different sectors have a different list, but try these first):

  • Project progress – Checklist and issue identification
  • Collaboration – Project planning, agenda, and milestone driven
  • Feedback – Review of previously shared material
  • Discover – Subject outlined but with an open agenda
  • Sales pitch – Show and tell
  • Service review – Client account management
  • Staff management – HR and personal development

Now, remembering that all can be done using any form of meeting, which meeting type is best for each of the above:

  • Virtual
  • Hybrid
  • Face to face

The beer mats here represent a model for the partnership between E4SP as a platform vendor and a carrier/SP, established after an hour of passionate debate (and a couple of beers) but also through the sharing and challenging of ideas and concepts ?

From a technology tool kit point of view, the majority of knowledge workers will need to have a remote capability and, as a result, office meeting rooms must deliver a high-quality hybrid meeting capability. But for me, the key responsibility comes down to management and their ability to identify both the immediate and the longer-term outcomes that need to be achieved.

Training needs to be given on the skills required within both virtual and actual meetings but also on the hard and soft outcomes available for each. Technology can truly augment human performance, but there is the potential for additional outcomes when humans share time and experiences together. Conversations that are not asked to run to time, not restricted by on-screen annotation, can often spiral into the most energetic and exciting exchange of ideas.

As a member of the cloud technology community, it is easy to write a narrative to suit the sales budget and our product specification, but our customers’ focus is and will always need to be on their outcomes – and for that, we still need to encourage and support human-to-human activity.

Cloud Communications Alliance

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