Technology Will Fuel More Inclusive Meeting Experiences 

Jeetu Patel, SVP and General Manager, Security and Collaboration for Cisco, on how technology can help leaders make meetings better – both now and in the future.

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In the history of humanity, moments of lasting change have occurred when people have come together and worked on finding solutions to the hardest problems.

To do this, the most successful companies harness the collective brainpower of their teams.

Traditionally, meetings have been a key way to facilitate this interaction, and often meetings take up a majority of a person’s day – especially over the past year.

With this in mind, our opportunity as tech leaders is to approach this as a hard problem, delivering a better solution to the traditional meeting to drive inclusive collaboration among people and teams.

Technology can help us redefine how we prioritize time

Time is our most precious resource and we should be deliberate and careful in how we spend our time.

Meetings can be remarkably inspiring and energizing, but anything in excess is bad. Go for a meeting only if you need that conversation. If not, asynchronous communication might be a better fit.

If you choose a meeting, make the time productive by engaging in dialogue among attendees.

This holds true whether your meeting has a handful or thousands of people. None of us want to be spoken to, we want to be part of a conversation and have the opportunity to contribute.

Technology can play a central role in transforming any meeting, big or small, into a conversation.

Think about how the most personable celebrities make fans feel like the only person in the room. That’s the feeling we need to create in any meeting.

So we should use technology to keep people engaged in what’s going on, inspire, and create a collective feeling of excitement.

Technology drives a more inclusive way to collaborate

In a world where opportunity isn’t evenly spread, but talent is, technology can deliver a more inclusive way to collaborate and play an important role in leveling the playing field.

It can allow for equal voices across the board, regardless of geography, language, proficiency with technology, and personality type. At the end of the day, what matters is that the best idea wins. Technology can enable the extraction of those ideas.

All of this boils down to what the key metric for a meeting or work, in general, is: results.

Successful organizations are those that prioritize enabling employees to connect, encourage, and gather more ideas from more people. This directly impacts the best possible output.

Technology is central to doing this at scale. It enables a higher number and a greater diversity of voices to participate in conversations and find solutions to hard problems – whether during or outside of a meeting.

Improving the administrative meeting hygiene before, during, and after a meeting

We need to equip leaders with tools that create a better meeting experience. For example, leveraging technology for live agenda setting and note taking – leaving people to do creative and critical thinking.

By removing this administrative burden, both the facilitator and attendees can make time to engage, feel welcome, and be heard – instead of multitasking to take notes and action items.

Another untapped area of opportunity is to leverage technology as a personal coach by serving up insights into trends about your own behavior and interactions in your network.

Having access to these personal insights can be hugely valuable in driving inclusive meeting experiences. It can help individuals to identify blind spots they may have in building and nurturing working relationships.

As we do this, it’s of paramount importance that we earn the trust of people and don’t violate their privacy. When privacy is considered a basic human right, it will show in the solutions we build and the technologies will engender the trust of the users.

Finally, it’s critical to replicate the value of spontaneity (easily found in a physical office setting), in virtual meetings. It’s ineffective to structure all interactions in a traditional meeting scenario. Recreating ‘water cooler moments’ is crucial to how a hybrid workforce will thrive.

Final thoughts

The future of work is hybrid. It’s a future in which 98% of meetings will include a remote participant.

Organizations that will use technology to drive inclusive experiences and nurture the best ideas will have an incredible advantage. Especially as we get into the hybrid world.

In a mixed mode, where some people will be together, and others remote, it will be even more important to level a playing field for everyone so that no one has an upper hand in how we communicate.

Let’s level the playing field, and not have geography be the limiter.

This article was written by Jeetu Patel, SVP and General Manager, Security and Collaboration for Cisco.

Jeetu is also featured in our Trend Report ‘The Online Meeting Revolution’.

In the report, you’ll discover the latest research and trends in online and hybrid meetings and pick up plenty of actionable tips for your next meeting.

Get the report here

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