Everyone knows unproductive meetings are a company's worst enemy. When used effectively, though, meetings can produce great ideas and the opportunity to receive vital, real-time feedback.

The idea of holding consistently productive meetings may be a pipe dream for some, but not for Jason Shah. Jason is the founder and CEO of Do (Do.com), a platform that helps companies run productive and even--gasp--enjoyable meetings.

Do has a pretty impressive client list, with major companies using the product including:

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Twitter
  • Dropbox
  • Salesforce
  • Netflix
  • Uber
  • Spotify
  • Airbnb
  • The NBA
  • Disney

I spoke recently with Jason about how to make meetings better, and what sets his product apart from others.

Tell me what your company does.

Jason: Do is software that is explicitly focused on meetings. Our research shows that executives spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings. That's a lot of time, so you want to make sure you're getting a good return. Our product takes the most common problems in meeting culture and creates processes that systematically eliminate those problems.

Our goal is to bring three central themes to every meeting: structure, transparency, and automation.

How does Do help?

Jason: Let's start with one example, setting an agenda. I'm a strong believer that setting and sharing an agenda with your co-workers in advance is the best way for everyone to come into a meeting fully prepared with what they need to discuss.

As the day for a meeting approaches, our software prompts the moderator to prepare for the meeting by creating an agenda to outline what will be discussed, importing notes and follow-ups from prior meetings, and uploading any relevant files. This helps meeting organizers save time, because there's no need to scramble through folders and old emails during meetings to find the right docs, presentations, or spreadsheets. Do then prompts users to share this agenda with the rest of the meeting attendees, sometime in advance, to avoid confusion as to what the meeting is actually about.

Sometimes, everything the team needs to know is on the agenda, and the team realizes there's nothing they really need to discuss. That leads to the moderator cancelling the meeting--which means a lot of time is gained by avoiding meetings that aren't really necessary.

Other tools help team members to define the right priorities, and provide managers with analytics that give a bird's-eye view of how the entire company spends time in meetings. There's even a timer for every meeting that goes red when you go overtime.

What do you feel is the biggest problem in company meetings?

Jason: There are a lot of problems, but one of the worst is lack of follow-through. There's an awful tendency to forget two basic distinctions--what has been done and what needs to be done. So, often, people leave meetings confused about the two, and as a result, their action items slip their minds and never get completed. In essence, that turns the entire meeting into a waste of time.

We simplify this process into two simple yet powerful distinctions: follow-ups and outcomes. If a task needs to be followed-up, Do prompts the moderator to assign that task to a specific person, who then gets an email and a push notification with the basics of the task, and a link to the meeting page to provide more context.

Basically, we want to simplify the question, "What do I need to do again?" by providing a centralized place for workers to view the most important things pertaining to their meetings.

High Hopes

Can Do do for meetings what Slack has done for written communication? Time will tell.

But with its current list of high-profile customers, Shah and his team seem to be headed on the right track.