The Meeting Minute


Stephen Weber, Author at Less Meeting - Page 3 of 4

Write a More Effective Meeting Agenda

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The key to a great meeting starts with proper preparation and ends with thoughtful follow up. While it sounds like an easy task, why do we still have meetings that run long, go off-topic, and feel unorganized?

Most of these problems can be pinned to poor agendas (or worse, no agenda at all!). Here’s our guide to creating a better agenda for more effective meetings:

Why send a meeting agenda?

  • They let people know what to expect before the meeting gets started. This eliminates time wasting discussions that try to figure out what the meeting is really about.
  • They give others time to read materials and prepare for the meeting. This pre-meeting period creates a more engaged/educated group from the very start.
  • They keep meetings on topic. If someone brings up a subject that does not fit with the meeting objective, simply ‘cut it out’.

What’s included in the meeting agenda?

  • In your calendar invite, define a purpose for the meeting that addresses what you’re trying to accomplish.
    • The purpose should coincide with your team’s objectives, if not… why meet?
  • Come up with 3-5 important topics that can be efficiently covered in the allocated time.
    • This will help guide meeting discussion without trying to squeeze too much in or meet longer than necessary.
  • Let content dictate how much time to schedule, not vice versa.
    • Set time limits on each topic to stay on track.
      • Ex: “Social Media Strategy…….. 15 minutes”
  • Assign a note-taker to send out important notes, action items and key decisions. This helps keep everyone in the loop and documents upcoming tasks for more accountability.
  • Send the calendar invite 3 days to a week in advance to ensure people get ample time to review the agenda and prepare for the meeting.

 What other agenda tips work for your team?

Good Habits Start With Your Team

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One morning you woke up and decided to take action against all the activities in your life that were unnecessarily taking up your time. So, you made a hot cup of coffee and began reading ‘Getting Things Done‘ with the intention of adding time back to your day and improving your process for maximizing efficiency.

After a few short weeks, you were on top of the world- free of stress and a lot more motivated to do the things you actually needed to do.

Unfortunately, the story didn’t end there. As time went on, it became harder to actually stick with your plan. While it became you against the unproductive world- life got busier, work became more stressful and your once mighty plan dwindled away. You slowly went back to sitting in unnecessary meetings, tasks began piling up and the rest of the company worked longer hours just to stay afloat.

Stay On Track For Better Meetings

What derailed your productivity plan? Quite simply, there was no support system in place. Sure, it’s great to be efficient by yourself, but no matter how hard you try, unless the rest of the work place is also implementing best practices and motivated to accomplish the same team objectives, it can be very easy to fall off the productivity horse and into a pile of bad habits.

From little league baseball to political revolutions, we are taught about the power of people coming together. The business world is no different- collaboration and team adoption goes a long way in changing poor habits and instituting positive change across an organization.

Why Use Less Meeting As a Team?

Individual users are able to use Less Meeting to effectively revamp an outdated meeting process, but using it with the whole team has some clear advantages:

1) Easily share information with your team, all in one place

  • No more share sites where folders get messy and space is limited. You can assign tasks, highlight key decisions, and have it all saved in one convenient place. Whether you are on the road (with our mobile app) or don’t have internet access (in offline mode), you can take/share notes with your entire team.

2) Sync actions items across the rest of the team for increased accountability

  • The idea of assigning a task is great, but we often spend too much time making sure our coworkers are actually doing it. How can they still be reminded without you feeling like a nag or wasting precious time? Set email reminders and look back at meeting minutes to determine who has to do what and when. No more excuses. Everything is shared across the team, and everyone knows exactly what needs to get done.

3) Team reporting

  •  See how people are spending their time. Monitor how many minutes are dedicated to meeting each week and set goals to reduce that time spent using our scoring guides.

4) Anyone can take notes.

  • Only having one full time note taker makes meeting very difficult when they are out of the office or sick. When coworkers switch taking notes, it establishes a shared responsibility and motivates individuals to take better notes and actually read them.
  • Double booked across two meetings? No problem, more licenses means no more scheduling conflicts if more than one person is using it at once.

5) Easily send meeting minutes to only team members, vendors, or clients.

  • When you are taking notes, putting together an attendance list can be tedious, especially with a lot of invitees involved. Now you can just send those notes with a single click to only team members in attendance, rather than every member in the meeting. This makes sharing notes internally very easy and protects meeting notes from getting into the wrong hands (clients, prospects, etc.)- unless of course you want to!

6) Recurring meetings can be referenced by everyone.

  • Remember what we talked about in that last status meeting? Me neither. Check Less Meeting to see exactly what was discussed so that you can come prepared to build off last week’s progress.

7) Parking lot for future meetings with team members.

  • Put discussion items that aren’t on topic in the parking lot. This keeps meetings on track and allows members to address the off topic (but great ideas!) in the next meeting.

How Can I get my Team On Board?

It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but it certainly can be done- especially when the simplicity and benefits far outweigh the skepticism.

Here are a few tips for better team meetings:

1) Start using the tool
  • You cansign up for a free trial anytime. When others see how nice the meeting minutes look and how pre-written agendas really help the meeting flow, heads will start turning.

2) Find another advocate who may be willing to try it out

  • The more people using it, the better. Perhaps there is someone else who is interested in addressing the meeting problem at your work, send them a free trial and test it out together.

3) Measure meeting statistics

  • Show meeting scores and measure how much time is actually being spent inside meetings. When people see how much time they could actually be saving, they may realize poor meetings may be a bigger problem than they originally thought.

4) Highlight the key features that are current pain points for your team.

  • Is a lot of time wasted because there is no agenda? Show them the agenda. Is there a problem with getting team members to accomplish tasks on time? Show them how to assign tasks and set up reminders.

5) Show the simplicity of the product.

  • Less Meeting takes less than a minute to set up. People are already familiar with scheduling meetings, taking notes, and trying to send them out. Showing how Less Meeting seamlessly integrateswith that process, but simply makes it more efficient.

We’re more than happy to schedule a team demo to show all the useful features of the tool. If your team wants to learn more about how Less Meeting can change your meeting culture, please contact us here.

Why Take Notes?

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There are two types of people in the world. Those that take notes and those that make friends with people that take notes.

Whichever category you fall in, there’s no denying that notes can significantly help the production of a team. Sharing essential information, remembering urgent tasks and referring to important discussions are vital to members that either don’t have a photographic memory or are simply unable to attend a meeting.

Don’t let notes scare you. It can be very easy to efficiently take notes in a meeting, without feeling like this guy:

Here’s a few note taking practices we endorse:

1) Don’t write down everything.

  • Concentrate on listening first, documenting second. Fight the urge of writing every word and just summarize the valuable information. This will significantly cut the fat out of lengthy notes that people won’t want to read.
  • It’s always better to have less information that will actually be read vs. lots of information that no one will ever read.

2) Send out meeting notes/tasks to attendees and all pertinent members of your team.

  • Notes aren’t just important for the people in the room- they also keep the decision makers in the loop when they don’t have time to attend.
  • Having a record of promises made during meetings holds coworkers accountable for their work.  Assigning these tasks will keep them responsible and make it harder to have duties slip through the cracks.
3) Separate action items from your notes.
  • Make action items easy to find and separate them from the rest of the notes to highlight the importance.
4) Send out notes ASAP.
  • The longer you wait, the less likely it is for you to send it out / have others actually read it. If you are sending notes out several days after the meeting, the content becomes less relevant and gives the recipients less time to act on any tasks before the next meeting.
5) Find a system to easily share notes.
  • The easier it is to share something, the more likely it will be shared. Whether you are using programs like Dropbox, Sharepoint, or Less Meeting *wink wink*, find a system that makes it easy to update and send.
How has note taking improved your meetings?