Productivity

Let these robots fix your perfect meeting

By Oliver Smith 18 May 2016
Summary

Amy, Charlie and Crystal will use their smarts to super-charge your meetings.

I don’t know what meetings I have today, but I know they’ll slot perfectly in with my schedule at my favourite places.

I don’t know who will be in the meetings, but by the time I arrive I’ll be briefed with each person’s background, business interests and personality.

I’ll even be given topics to bring up that might help the conversation to flow, or advice on how to either apply pressure or make the people I meet feel at ease.

By the end of the day I’ve done a great job, and there’s a email already written for my boss, tailored to his personality, asking for a raise.

This isn’t the future, and I don’t have a personal assistant researching your lifestyle.

This is what technology can do today, for free.

Business People Meeting Growth Success Target Economic Concept

Walking into the meeting of the future

I absolutely believe this is how the meetings of the future will happen, using technology to augment or replace the handful of basic jobs that I already do every day.

Firefighting dozens of meeting and interview requests, rushing to Google everyone before those same meetings, brainstorming topics of conversation, and hoping I have a good enough understanding of them, their company and their personality.

But how do we get there today? There are 4 tools you need.

Meet Amy, Charlie and Crystal

First, time to automate your meetings schedule.

You might remember we met Amy, or Andrew, Ingram last month.

Amy is your virtual email assistant who can take over conversations, hammer out the details, and let you know once a time and date has been fixed.

Read more: Meet Amy, a virtual PA that is fixing my meetings

Amy will sort out your calendar, making sure meetings don’t clash and only take place at the times you want them to.

Last month I said “Amy is excellent, and I’d wholeheartedly recommend signing up for the beta and giving the service a go.”

There were some caveats, Amy is still being developed and was a bit slow on the uptake with replying to emails in my testing, sometimes taking a few hours to get back to people.

So for those more mission-critical meetings which need quicker responses, Calandly will still take some of the hard work out of hammering out the details of meetings. Calandly is an email service that pulls your availability into a conversation and lets recipients pick times and locations that work for you.

Not quite a virtual assistant, but close.

Sign up to the waiting list to try Amy for free here, and it’s free to get started with Calandly straight away here.

So now that your calendar is in order, arranged by Amy or Calandly, now we can move on to briefing you ahead of your first meeting.

For that we need Charlie.

A digital one-pager

Charlie is a smartphone app, one that sends you helpful emails about the people you’re about to meet.

It’s pitched as helping you make a “killer impression” with whoever you’re about to meet. Charlie will send you a one-pager briefing email covering the participants of any meeting in your calendar, an email that conveniently arrives an hour before said meeting.

Expect names, job titles, recent news articles, common connections, company stats and more.

Charlie is what you read while walking to the coffee shop or meeting room to quickly get up to speed with the people you’re about to talk to.

Then you can bring up that recent merger or contact you both have in common, with the confidence that Charlie has done its homework.

I should say that Charlie can be a bit overzealous in giving advice. I went to a meeting recently where Charlie suggested I bring up someone’s big life event (an upcoming wedding), which turned out to be totally wrong, awkward and embarrassing for everyone… that said, nine times out of 10 Charlie is spot on.

Sign up for Charlie for free here, and download the smartphone app on the App Store.

But sometimes you need a bit more detail, maybe you’re closing an important deal and you’ve got to get to the root of what makes someone tick.

That’s when Crystal comes in.

My crystal ball

Crystal is Charlie on steroids.

Advertised for salespeople, Crystal is increasingly being used in the corporate world.

Its algorithms will scrape a contacts public profiles, LinkedIn, Twitter, Gmail, Salesforce, etc, and use this data to build up a personality profile on a person.

Crystal with then compare this to your profile and tell you intriguing details like, who’s more likely to win an argument, the most persuasive language to use with them, or whether you’ll like or loathe each other.

It’s like having your own personal psychologist to analyse those around you.

Crystal will even help you to write emails, suggesting the best language to use, or prepare a pre-written message to your boss, asking them for that raise you’ve been angling for.

Crystal is the final tool in our perfect meeting toolkit, and it’s a powerful one.

It’s free to sign up for Crystal here and start analysing the personalities of your co-workers and contacts.

Meeting adjourned

There you have it, the four tools that today can super-charge your meetings.

With Amy, Charlie, Calandly and Crystal you can be the boss of your meetings, with an AI army doing the grunt work and heavy lifting.

Maybe handing complete control of your diary and meeting management over to these machines today is too big an ask.

But, like it or not, robots are coming to run your meetings.