Ask people what they think of meetings — especially virtual ones — and they’ll tell you that most meetings they attend are a waste of time. Why are they a waste of time? Some reasons meetings go bad include:
- The right people aren’t there to get things done;
- The agenda is unclear or particpants don’t stick to it;
- The conference call solution being used lacks visuals.
Meeting solutions company TimeBridge is trying to make meetings better. We’ve reviewed TimeBridge before when it launched as a scheduling application, and I wrote about TimeBridge when video conferencing was added. This week, the company announced their unveiling as a full suite of tools to “run great meetings.”
Some of the new features include:
- Let’s Meet ™ — an optimized scheduler for one-on-one meetings
- Collaborative agenda — a feature that allows meeting participants to contribute to the meeting agenda
- Meeting Time Messenger ™ — an SMS feature to remind participants of the meeting
- iPhone Application- – turns your iPhone (s aapl) into a meeting gadget to keep your meeting on track.
Using TimeBridge, you can find the ideal meeting time using a single email and the system will work across companies and calendaring systems, bringing together one or many participants in the scheduling process.
The meeting system can include voice through FreeConference.com and desktop sharing as well as video for up to six people using DimDim technology. The visual features are offered at $8.95 per month or $89 per year, a steal compared to the WebEx-es of the world.
You can send a scheduling message using Let’s Meet in two ways: Let others vote for the time slot from the ones you’ve provided, or propose a time based on your availability which they can see via a visual calendar that shows when you are busy or when you restrict times such as restricting your availability to business hours only.
When you set up a meeting through your TimeBridge dashboard, you can opt for “meeting extras” which are the Meeting Agenda gadget where others can participate in building the meeting agenda and SMS notification where you are prompted to enter mobile numbers for participants. Five minutes before a meeting, all participants are pinged either in email or with SMS. If they are running late, they can respond to the SMS with their status or dial straight into the conference call number to join the meeting.
The TimeBridge iPhone app allows you to access all the meeting setup and participation features to manage your meeting. You can also set up an enhanced address book that syncs with people’s calendar system and will actually show you if they are busy or free if you are trying to call someone. If their calendar is free at the moment you want to call, a green button let’s you know. If their time is blocked off, the button is red.
If you’re team is virtual across a number of time zones, your TimeBridge dashboard can give you a view of all team members and visually show the overlapping hours when everyone is working at the same time and could potentially participate in a team-wide virtual meeting.
Company reps say that they aren’t done yet in terms of adding to their meeting management suite, and they take their feature development cues from GTD guru David Allen. If TimeBridge keeps this up, they may just be creating the Holy Grail of meeting efficiency. Actually holding a good meeting, however, is up to you.
What virtual meeting solution are you using and how is it working for you?