Now, web meetings are definitely useful — I often do several a day with companies I intend to cover at VentureBeat. But those meetings also have their share of annoyances. Sometimes I have only a vague idea of what people want to talk about, and the meeting ends up covering a very different topic than what I’d hoped. Sometimes I’m stuck in a previous meeting and have no easy way to let people know I’m running late. And there are almost always lots of things around me and on my computer that distract me from the meeting.
San Francisco-based TimeBridge says it now offers tools for the entire meeting process. It handles the scheduling of course, using its already-established methods for sharing availability between different calendar, and different calendaring systems like Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook. You can even create a “Let’s Meet” page where people can sign up for spots on your calendar. Once the meeting is scheduled, TimeBridge provides an online Meeting Room where attendees can discuss any logistical issues ahead of time, and can also collaborate to build the agenda. When the meeting is a few minutes away, TimeBridge reminds you by sending a text message sent to your mobile phone. If you’re running late, one click in those messages can let everyone know that’s the case.
TimeBridge is also releasing an iPhone app that would be particularly useful fo running a meeting. It lets you view the agenda, call in to the conference phone line, and even run a timer for each agenda item. So if everyone agreed to spend only five minutes talking about a specific policy, you can cut them off at five minutes.
Now, I’m not sure this solves all of the problems associated with web meetings — I’m still going to get distracted by emails, sorry. Still, all of these features seem like improvements on the normal process.
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