If you’re interested in improving meeting efficiency, you’ve probably already heard about Amazon’s Silent Meeting method. To replace the PowerPoint presentations, Bezos created a new way to hold meetings: Meetings start with each attendee sitting and silently reading a “six-page, narratively-structured memo” for about the first 30 minutes of the meeting.
The thing we weren’t expecting when discussing with Taoufik Limami, Senior Product Manager at 360Learning, is how they’ve managed to improve and apply this method through video collaboration.
Let’s dive in!
Rituals in a remote-first context
360Learning—a collaborative learning platform—is a remote-first company with people across Europe and the US. As Taoufik explained to us, the company has long advocated for asynchronous work to keep the number of meetings to a minimum. In order to avoid context switching and encourage deep work, most discussions happen asynchronously in Trello.
But it can also come with some challenges. And Taoufik and his teammates have managed to find a healthy balance between written communication, async videos, and occasional meetings to foster effective collaboration.
At 360Learning we use mostly Trello to communicate. It forces everyone to communicate in a pyramidal way and be very synthetic, but it's not always adapted to all situations. Some discussions need more context and interactivity—and written communication is not the best for that. For example, some comments need to be made in context and the video brings that context. In some other cases, meetings are necessary to check in with your teammates and discuss some issues.
One of the rituals we discussed during our call was his Weekly Team Meeting.
From silent meetings to "not-so" silent meetings with Claap
In order to maintain healthy bonds within his team, Taoufik decided quite early to set rituals with his squad to connect and discuss issues on a weekly basis.
One of the most important rituals is their weekly team update that takes place every Monday. As a follower of Amazon’s principles, Taoufik wanted to set a clear structure that his teammates could follow every week.
We have a Trello card where I list my top five priorities of the week, a few elements of context for each item and the recap of the things I did last week. I ask my squad to use the same template and to share with me their top five priorities so we can align on this.
However, as he was already using Claap in his daily work, he realized this preparation became much more efficient when he was recording a quick video to explain his update.
I realized I was spending a lot of time writing a lot of things in the Trello card to add more context and in the end, it was easy to lose the bigger picture. So I started recording videos to explain the card. The voiceover allows to give a lot of context and saves me so much time.
So, the team decided to integrate videos into their weekly team updates to make it more efficient. From now on, every team member shares their video prior to the weekly meeting. Then they have a 20-minute silent watching to start the meeting. This is the moment when everyone watches the different videos and comments on them. Then the team uses comments to highlight some issues and isolate the topics they need to discuss during the meeting.
We spend the rest of the meetings deep diving on some specific topics instead of spending so much time just talking about our priorities of the week. That’s very efficient. This saves us at least one or two other meetings because some questions are already solved when the meeting ends.
Improving your weekly rituals with async communication
If you’re considering improving your weekly team updates, Taoufik offers another approach you can try with your team.
We’ve recently covered this topic with two other customers—Revolut and Uberall—and we found out that even though the formats might vary, those 4 elements always remain true:
- Make sure the format is very clear—wether you do it live or async, you need to clearly write down the structure of this meeting and what your teammates should report.
- Keep some sync time—this ritual is important to foster bonds between teammates and discuss hot topics. Async communication helps you better isolate those in advance.
- Have a clear repeatable process—make it super easy to follow and track on a weekly basis
- Encourage teammates to contribute—your teammates will be encouraged to share updates if they feel like it’s useful. Encourage everyone to contribute and participate to boost engagement.