The Meeting Minute


The Importance of Starting and Stopping Meetings on Time

Posted by | Business Tips, Meeting Tips | No Comments

The Executive Decree – “We will start meetings on time, and we will end meetings on time.”

At the beginning of my first meeting at a new client, I arrived early and picked my spot near the far corner of the conference room table (I prefer to sit near the corner of the table closest to the screen). The Executive Sponsor came in early and chatted with me for3-4minutes. I glanced at my watch a few times as various members of the client team tricked in a few minutes after the planned start time.Meeting Room

Once we had the team present, I started my introduction, but the VP stood up as I was about to begin and interrupted me. “Excuse me for one moment Brett … < dramatic pause >… I want to make one thing clear to everyone on this project: We will start meetings on time, and we will end meetings on time. We are all busy, and we need to respect one another’s time”.  He sat back down, and after about 10 seconds of awkward silence (which felt like an hour), I started up again “Thank you all for coming today. The objective of this meeting is…

To this day, the Executive Sponsor’s assertion on the importance of timely meetings sticks with me. He wasn’t mean, and he wasn’t trying to assert his authority, he was trying to make us better at an essential part of our jobs.

Why Is It So Important to Be on Time?

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5 Email Templates For Following Up On Action Items

Posted by | General Productivity, Meeting Tips | No Comments

action itemsHave you ever walked away from a meeting with a sneaking suspicion that nothing discussed in the meeting will get accomplished? Were you right?

Early on in my career, I had too many meetings where followup items just didn’t get done.  It wasn’t because the people were incompetent or didn’t care… normally, it was because they were swamped with stuff and the action item fell off their radar.

Being attuned to and empathizing with people’s busy schedule is one of the easiest ways to disarm a potentially awkward conversation (nobody likes feeling like they have done a bad job). Whenever I talk with someone about missing an action item, one of the key things I try to keep in mind is, “The person has not done anything wrong, the action item has just not been accomplished yet.”

Here are five email templates that you can use to follow up on action items (hopefully, without seeming like a jerk):


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How to Schedule a Meeting With Someone You Don’t Know

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So you are looking to schedule a meeting with someone you don’t know very well…


  1. What is the correct protocol to ask for a meeting?
  2. How do you get the meeting without seeming like a jerk?
  3. What if they turn you down?

These questions can cause you anxiety, especially if you’re an introvert who is not good at talking to new people (like me).

Below are my tips for how I approach getting a meeting with someone new:

How To Get A Meeting

1. Have Context

I generally avoid asking someone for a meeting that I don’t have context for. I define “context” as a point of reference… either you met them at an event, or you know someone who knows them, or you’re a big fan. Context is anything reason valuable enough for you to reach out to them.

Request a follow-up meeting on the spot

If I talk to someone at an event, I try to get a follow up while the conversation is still fresh.

Example: “I would love to chat more about ABC, would you be interested in grabbing coffee or lunch sometime this week?” If possible pull your phone out and send a meeting invite right away.

Write a note their business card

Make sure you write some information about the discussion on the back of the card to refresh your memory if you send out an invite later on. When you send out an email after an event, be sure to mention where you met them and what you discussed, e.g. “It was great meeting you at the fundraiser on Friday. I enjoyed chatting with you about ABC. Per our discussion, I would love to grab a meeting this week to chat more about ABC.” Read More

How to Follow Up on That Unanswered Meeting Request

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Sometimes simply scheduling the meeting can be the hardest part.

    You were at an event last night and met Brett. He had some awesome ideas to help your startup so you got his card and he suggested you get together soon.
    The next day you email him to schedule a meeting but you never hear from Brett again.

You know you need to follow up with Brett but don’t want to annoy him in the process, which may stop him from helping you at all.

photo credit (creative commons)

How Do I Follow Up With Brett?

What people don’t realize is why the other person – Brett in this example – didn’t respond to the initial email.

Perhaps he never intended to help me out, but that’s simply unlikely. And even if that’s the case, an extra follow-up can’t make it any less likely that he’ll respond.

Here’s what’s more likely:

  • He never saw my email among the hundreds in his Inbox,
  • He started to respond but got sidetracked and then forgot altogether, or
  • He has a laundry list of stuff to do, and meeting with me just isn’t a high priority

So it’s ok to send follow-ups…it’s even necessary.


The obvious next question is, What do I say to Brett?

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