Meetings suck — so why don’t we do something about it?

Updated 10/10/17

Meetings suck — so why don’t we do something about it?
I wonder how productive the lady in purple at the top is? Taking notes with her pen upside down, and the cap still on! Actually the more I look at it, the more this photo makes me laugh. Whoever owns those fingers creeping in from the left hand edge is very awkwardly positioned between the other two reaching in.

Updated 10/10/17

We all know the feeling of being dragged into yet-another-meeting. Unfocused stand-ups, sprawling discussions and re-hashing the same topics for the 15th time this week. And when you have a remote team, the challenges grow.

Still, no matter how much we might hate meetings, they are an essential business tool. Connecting together is an essential part of getting things done. But despite the literally 100’s of video conferencing tools meant to help you connect, none of them make the actual meeting process better. Zeen is here to change that.

We originally built Zeen as an interview tool. As we began to regularly use it for internal team meetings, especially with our New Zealand team, we made an interesting discovery…

The way in which we were using Zeen was making our meetings more efficient!

That efficiency was being driven by our “go live” interview model (more on this later). We discovered something different for meetings — a way of interacting with the tool that was helping to create a better meeting.

With this insight, we started to think more about how we could help teams hold better meetings using video conferencing and out of that, Zeen as it exists today, was born.

A typical video conferencing solution makes it efficient to connect two “talking heads”, and then it stops there.

Of course, there are many video conferencing solutions, but interestingly, they don’t try to help you hold better meetings. They help you connect two or more “talking heads”, and generally stop there. Sure, they promise simplicity, faster connections, better quality, etc. — all good goals, but they don’t provide the tools to make your meeting better.

Zeen is a platform for meetings —we are delivering video conferencing with a purpose. We’re here to help you hold better meetings and get bigger results. Here are 5 reasons:

1. Meeting 101 — Use an Agenda

You can’t expect to stay focused without a plan, so with Zeen, we’ve created “Heads Up” agendas. These appear at the top of your meeting so that everyone can see exactly where you are, and stay on track.

Heads Up Agenda on the Web

2. Mobile First

You’ve got a phone and you’ve got a phone and you’ve got a phone!

Zeen is not the only video conferencing solution with a mobile app, but we are confident it’s one of the very few designed, mobile first. This means you get the best of Zeen, regardless of whether you use it from your desktop browser or phone.

Beyond just being with you on the go, mobile phones are also good platforms for video conferencing, as they have a functioning built in camera and microphone.

The Heads Up agenda on an iPhone

You can also present directly from mobile too. Zeen allows you to present:

  • Websites
  • Local Images

All directly from your mobile phone.

3. Get a Room!

We think meetings are best held in rooms. Similar to Slack channels, they stay with you. This has a lot of advantages:

  • No need to re-invite everyone each week
  • Helps build a history of participation, shared content, and conversation.
  • No need to “hunt” for that link — just open Zeen and the room is there.
  • Standing Agendas can stay with the room.

Rooms save you time and help make meetings more efficient.

Zeen rooms — they’ll be there for you!

4. Meeting Statistics & Logs

You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Zeen delivers statistics to help you monitor and understand your meeting’s effectiveness.

Our participation log shows who was attending, when they went live, and how long they spoke in the meeting. We’ll talk more about how we run our weekly stand up in a future post.

This is just the beginning of the statistics we are building to help you manage your meetings effectively. If you have ideas on statistics you’d like to see for your meetings, please let me know!

5. A People First Focus

We mentioned “going live”. This is a critical part of the Zeen experience. Consider this:

  • How often do you see people join a video conference but never turn their camera on?
  • How often are people who are on camera actually muted?
  • How distracting is it to see people on camera, but actually doing something else?
  • How many times do dogs, kids, husbands, or other amusing but meaningless content wander into frame?

By limiting the number of people who are live, Zeen helps address many of these concerns. Although this concept can seem a little strange initially, we’ve found it’s a great way to keep meetings focused and efficient.

Here’s how it works.

As you see, we can have a few hundred people watching up to four people chatting, at anytime. This has several advantages:

  • Fewer distractions.
  • No unnecessary bandwidth being used (important for a mobile first app)
  • Easy to scale out — because we’re broadcasting the four live users, we can reach many more from our servers than you can from a desktop alone.

As long as there are no more than three people already presenting, you can simply swipe up on your avatar and join the conversation.

You may have also noticed the circles. Instead of maximizing the video window, we believe that in the context of meetings, it’s more important to focus on the face, not on the background. It also means less data, which is another important mobile first consideration.

That’s just a few of the things we’ve built into Zeen to help make meetings better. Available now at, on Android and iOS.

We want to hear from you!

Tell us how much you ❤️ Zeen,