The Meeting Minute


Stay Comfortable At Your Desk

Posted by | Business Tips | No Comments

The business world used to be a lot more “active” 100 years ago. You’d hop on a horse and buggy to meet with potential customers, walk up several flights of stairs to ask your boss a quick question and eat whatever was in walking distance to your office.

Today, you don’t even have to leave your desk to get most things done. You can control the temperature of the room with the tap of your finger (with nest), have an instant conversation with your coworker half way around the world (with iChat), and have delicious food delivered to your door step by making a simple phone call.

Technology makes our lives significantly easier, but it also tends to confine us to one area- the desk. Mobile phones and iPads give us more flexibility, but according to ScienceDaily, the average adult still spends 6 hours a day sitting at their desk. It’s no wonder we’re getting arthritis earlier, hunched backs sooner, and exercising less each day.

You can help combat the negatives of desk-convenience by taking regular breaks, doing simple stretches, and utilizing well-designed products.

Here are a few of our recommendations:

1) The Aeron Chair 

If you’re going to be sitting for 6 hours a day, you might as well be comfortable. The Aeron chair was created by the master mind behind the famous Eames Lounger, Herman Miller. With over nine different adjustable positions, this chair can fit just about any body type comfortably. Designed to be ergonomically sound, these chairs significantly reduce body fatigue and enforce better posture .

The only downside is the price at $679, which may seem like a big upfront cost now, but your back will thank you in 20 years.

*Pro-tip: Search Craigslist to find them for half-off.

terra pro


 2) Standing Desks

The consensus best standing desk is NextDesk’s Terra. The Terra is incredibly easy to adjust, very well built, and available in a wide variety of options. At just over $1600, this can be quite expensive, but luckily there are other cost effective options as well.

The Ergo Depot AD17 adjustable height desk is a third of the cost, has a very clean design, and is a great option for smaller spaces.

3) Exercise Ball Chair

The exercise ball chair is great for strengthening your core while typing. Be careful with how you are sitting, as they have a tendency to roll away a bit more easily than a typical office chair, but at $79, this is easily the most cost effective solution to getting some much needed “bounce” to your day (zing!).

What types of office furniture / techniques do you use to stay comfortable at work?

7 Questions For The Productivity Pro

Posted by | General Productivity | No Comments

The best way to learn about any subject is to study the leaders of that particular field. For this week’s post, we had the pleasure of speaking with Laura Stack about different ways to increase productivity in the workplace.

Laura Stack is America’s premier expert in Productivity. For over 20 years, her seminars and speeches have helped leaders improve output, execute efficiently, and save time at work. Her company, The Productivity Pro, Inc., provides workshops around the globe on productivity, potential, and performance. She’s the bestselling author of five books from major publishers, most recently. To invite Laura to speak at your next event or sign up for her free monthly newsletter, visit

1) What inspired you to become a productivity expert? What helped you make the jump and apply the principles in your daily life?

My father is a veteran, a retired colonel in the United States Air Force, so I moved around quite a bit. Today, when people ask me about my childhood “home,” I think about the pink bedroom in Colorado, the yellow kitchen in Ohio, the whitewashed porch in Texas. I’ve moved nearly 30 times in all and hated every single one of them. So I survived by taking control of what I could. I became a master at packing and organizing.

My friends used to laugh at my perfectly clean bedroom, my compulsive list making, and my overwhelming urge to organize. But these experiences helped me with my life plan. The upheaval of my childhood taught me how to create order out of chaos, which laid the foundation for my work today. My background helped me build the systems I use today as The Productivity Pro, teaching professionals how to spend their time moving closer to their goals in work and life.

At my core, I don’t think of myself as an author first. What I really love doing is getting up on a stage and speaking. Being a professional speaker really floats my boat. I speak at professional conferences, meetings, retreats, training events…actually anywhere someone will hire me to talk. I knew that books would be the best vehicle to get my message into the hands of a mass market, prompting them to pick up the phone or email me with an inquiry to speak.

2) We encounter people that know they could be making better use of their time, but ironically never make the time to actually improve on their unproductive habits. How do you typically get those people to start finding the time to make positive changes?

Start small. Think about how productive you are right before you go on vacation. Everything inside of you supports your desire to leave! The unimportant things magically disappear, and you focus on higher-value activities. Similarly, you can pick a single day, perhaps Thursdays, to be “the” day you leave work on time. To support this decision, you will automatically begin to be more productive on Thursdays and work your day more carefully. Even though you work a normal workday on Thursday, you don’t get any less work done.

After you sense what it’s like to have Thursday nights to yourself, you benefit from a system of self-reinforcement, because you enjoy the rewards you created. Then add another day, like Monday, and do the same thing. Keep working on productivity skills and adding more days, until you’re working reasonable hours again and accomplishing even greater results.

3) What is the most common problem you typically hear in regards to poor meetings? How do you solve it?

The biggest problem people complain about is an unclear agenda.

People need to know why they’re meeting and what you expect to accomplish as a result.

Distribute the agenda and associated materials at least 24 hours in advance, preferably 72. At the end of the meeting, have someone distribute the minutes, which should list what decisions were made, who is responsible for what, by when. Rather than invite too many people, send the minutes to those who might be interested but don’t have an integral part in the meeting.

4) As technology continues to play a bigger role in the business world, do you think more companies will look to software to help solve their productivity problems?

Most organizations don’t have a clear methodology to accomplish the distribution of agendas, minutes, decisions, and action items. Most use a haphazard approach, and meetings succeed or fail based upon the organizational skill of the leader. Cloud-based technologies and apps like Less meeting allow for standardization, consistency, and follow-through on promises made. Less Meeting becomes the collective “memory” to allow members to refer back to what happened and what actions items are required.

5) What is one productivity tip you wish you knew 20 years ago?

I wish I would have hired people sooner to help me. The more money I’ve spent on partnerships, outsourcing, agents, and employees, the more successful I’ve been in business. I should have looked to other experts sooner to “fill in the blanks,” rather than doing everything myself. Identify people who can do what you can’t, pay them to do it, and get out of the way.

6) In your new book ‘Execution IS the Strategy’, you emphasize empowering employees to achieve success; in what ways could we start empowering our employees tomorrow?

Rather than simply issuing orders and expecting team members to follow them blindly, encourage them to do what they already know they need to do. Accept the fact that, despite your leadership role, they’re the ones at the sharp end of the stick. Modern leadership is more of a partnership than ever before.

Work may not be a democracy, but it’s definitely not a dictatorship. Circumstances change too fast. So be the change leader when you must and the visionary when you can. Give your team all the facts they need to advance, and allow them a free hand to shift course and goals quickly. Let them tell you the best way to achieve your priorities and get out of their way. Maintain the conversation as a positive feedback loop. That way, they know that what works best is constantly added to and strengthens the workflow system.

7) We find a lot of individuals who try to implement meeting best practices, but can’t seem to get their team members on board. How do you recommend getting coworkers to participate?

You should create a joint meeting code of conduct. The next time you attend a staff or committee meeting, request the opportunity to lead an exercise aimed at making meetings more productive and less draining.

Tell the group you would like to discuss some guidelines and protocols about meetings. Standing in front of a flip chart, ask the group, “If you were king or queen of the world, what rules would you make about meetings, to make them as productive as possible? What makes you crazy about our meetings? How do we waste time?” and list the statements people make. Type these up, title it “Code of Conduct,” put it on a piece of 8 ½ x 11 paper, and take it to a print shop to be blown up into a poster-size piece of paper. Frame it and hang it in the meeting rooms to remind people about proper behavior in a meeting.

Some sample guidelines include:

  • If the leader or key decision maker no-shows, attendees may leave after 10 minutes.
  • Use a timekeeper (appointed by the leader) to keep the meeting on target and follow the agenda.
  • Appoint a scribe for the meeting. When something comes up that’s not on the agenda, the scribe records it on the flipchart. If there is time at the end of the meeting, those items can be addressed. If time runs out, they roll over to the next meeting agenda.
  • Action items are recorded as “who/what/when” on a flipchart. The scribe types these up after the meeting and distributes them within 48 hours.
  • Meetings will start and stop on time, unless all in attendance agree to extend the time.
  • Try to finish early if possible; don’t stretch the meeting.
  • Attendees may get up and leave at the stated end time.
  • Eliminate any discussion that involves only two people.
  • Don’t stop meetings to bring latecomers up to date.


What guidelines would you add to the list?

3 Project Management Tools

Posted by | General Productivity | No Comments

Here at Less Meeting, we’re no strangers to the project management world. Many of us are former PM’s and many of our users are PM’s trying to find better ways to manage their always growing workload.

Along the way, we’ve picked up a few tips from users who are using software to help maximize their efficiency.

Here are our top 3 Project Management Tools:

Starting at $20 per month, Basecamp is one of the most common project management tools used by Less Meeting users and is built upon the principle of simplicity. 

Jason Fried (co-founder of Basecamp & 37Signals) follows the philosophy of “less is less” and allows users to form discussions, add to-do lists & files, manage calendars and keep track of projects in one very easy to use interface.

If you are looking for something easy to use without over complicating your current process, this is your tool.

Starting at $24 a month per user (for a yearly subscription), Liquid Planner is less complex than Microsoft Projects, integrates with, and includes some convenient features that many other tools are missing (like analytics and reporting):

  • Unlimited projects
  • Free training and support
  • Software integrations
  • Phone and tablet applications
  • Document sharing
  • Regular feature updates 


Starting at $25 for 5 team members, users can share files, create group discussions, assign tasks, collaborate on writing, set reminders, track time, and manage tickets & milestones.

ActiveCollab has a great mix of straightforward features, but also has additional features for teams that tend to do a lot of writing / collaborating. 

What other tools are you using to help manage your projects?

Stress Free Meetings by Carthage Buckley

Posted by | Meeting Tips | One Comment

Meetings are often used within business to solve problems. If used effectively, meetings are a fantastic tool for solving problems. If they are not managed effectively, meetings can create more problems than they solve. Poorly managed meetings regularly run over time, fail to stick to the agenda, result in unnecessary disputes and can be a general source of stress. These factors mean that many people dread meetings or come up with an excuse not to attend.

The solution is to focus on creating stress-free meetings. Stress-free meetings solve a specific issue in the minimum time required, causing the minimum disruption to the attendees. Once you have implemented stress-free meetings, people will be happy to give up their time to attend and contribute.

12 Tips for stress-free meetings

The following tips will help you to create stress-free meetings which invitees are eager to attend:

1. Only meet when necessary

Too often, people have meetings for the sake of having meetings. If there are not any issues to be resolved or important information to be delivered, then a meeting is usually unnecessary. Before arranging a meeting, take a look at the objectives of the meeting and ask yourself ‘Could this be dealt with by email?’ If the answer is yes, forget the meeting and send the email.

2. Set a strict agenda

It is tempting to try to solve all the companies’ problems in one meeting but it is not possible. Meetings work best when they focus on one main topic or area of the business. Keep the agenda narrow and focused. Set specific beginning and end times for each item on the agenda and make sure that everybody understands exactly what the meeting is about.

3. Only invite those who need to be there

You are not the only one with a hectic schedule. You need to be respectful of other people’s time.  The objectives of the meeting are important to you but that does not mean that they are important to everyone. People who are required to attend a meeting, which is unimportant to them, resent being there and resent the person who invited them. They can often become disruptive by dragging the conversation off track or making comments on issues that they do not fully understand.

4. Offer options

Make sure that it is acceptable for non-essential attendees to decline your meeting request e.g. you can arrange to copy them in on the minutes. Alternatively, they may only need to be there for part of the meeting. If so, arrange for them to attend that part and leave afterwards. As you will have set specific times for each item on the agenda, this will be easy to arrange. They will be grateful for your attempts to facilitate them.

5. Appoint a strong chairperson

An agenda is only as good as the person who enforces it. Appoint a strong chairperson who will make sure that people stick to the point and that the agenda is strictly adhered to.

6. Send the minutes of the previous meeting in Advance

Valuable meeting time can be wasted by arguments over the minutes of the previous meeting. If you pre-distribute the minutes, you can require people to raise any objections prior to the meeting, where they can be handled without disrupting the meeting. Then, the minutes can be read swiftly, and agreed to, at the beginning of the meeting, allowing you to move onto to the agenda.

7. Agree a group contract

For long meetings or regular meetings, agree a group contract beforehand. This sets out how people are expected to behave and communicate, along with the process for handling disputes. All attendees can be required to agree to it before the meeting.

The most effective way to do this is for the organiser, or chairperson, to draft a contract and send it to all attendees, allowing them to raise any objections they may have. If no objections are made, attendance will be viewed as agreement.

8. Set up working groups

Meetings are often dragged off track when discussions about minor issues on the agenda escalate. Where it becomes apparent that the issue needs to be tackled, it is better to set up a working group to tackle it, and then get back to the agenda. The working group can then meet separately, prior to the next meeting, and report back with their conclusions.

9. Schedule Breaks

If it is anticipated that the meeting is going to last a while, breaks should be built into the timetable. If attendees know when they are going to be able to have their toilet break, make a phone call, send an email or have a cigarette; they are less likely to pop in and out of the meeting. Instead, they are likely to give their full attention.

10. Refreshments

For longer meetings, it is essential that there are refreshments available for those in attendance. People who are thirsty, or hungry, lack concentration and are likely to make less valuable contributions.

11. Stand up

If you are aiming to keep the meeting brief, you might consider requiring the attendees to stand up. This prevents them from getting too comfortable. As nobody likes to stand for too long, they will be motivated to keep to the point. If the meeting is long, it can help to allow people to stand up and move around the room. This will help them to stay alert.

12. Have an effective wrap up process

At the end of the meeting, summarise the main points and inform the attendees of the date of the next meeting. At the first opportunity, distribute the minutes of the meeting and request agenda items for the next meeting. Don’t forget to set a closing date for submissions for the agenda of the next meeting.


If they are not managed effectively, meetings can create a lot more problems than they solve. Confusion, arguments and stress can occur as a result of badly organised meetings. The alternative is stress-free meetings. Stress-free meetings solve problems with the minimum of inconvenience.  With stress-free meetings, you get attendees who are motivated to be there and have a valuable contribution to make. At the end of the meeting, these people are glad that they attended. They leave with a sense of progress and achievement. If your meetings are unproductive and stressful, it is time that you focused on creating stress-free meetings. The 12 steps listed above will help you to create the effective, productive and enjoyable meetings which everybody wants to attend.

Carthage Buckley is a Stress and Performance Coach with Coaching Positive Performance. Carthage has more than 10 years international experience working with entrepreneurs, executives and ambitious professionals; helping them to eliminate stress and maximize performance.

Less Meeting Update #3 – Improved Calendar Sync & Outlook 2013 Support

Posted by | Features Update | No Comments
As we wrap up our series on our latest release we have two under-the-hood calendar sync updates we’re excited to announce.

1. Improved Calendar Integration

We’re consistently improving the calendar sync feature so that the meetings you see in Less Meeting match up with your calendar.While we’ve made a number of incremental updates in the past we’ve done a major overhaul this time around. Note that this will only affect new meetings that you schedule.No action is needed to set this up – you’ll start seeing the improvements automatically!

2. Outlook 2013 Beta

We’re excited to announce our Beta release for Outlook 2013. To get started download the latest version of the Less Meeting Outlook Add-in here. If you run into issues please contact us to let us know.Note that unfortunately touch screen computers are not supported yet.And of course Outlook 2007 & 2010 users will still get the same great add-in you always have.

New to Less Meeting?Click here to learn how the Less Meeting Outlook Add-in can help you reinvent the way you plan, run and follow up on your meetings.

Less Meeting Update #2 – International Date Support, Meeting Search & Teams

Posted by | Features Update | No Comments

Continuing with the updates from our latest release we have three more new features to show off.

1. International Date Support

We’re very excited to start displaying meeting dates & times in your localized format. Want your time shown in “dd/mm/yyyy” instead of “mm/dd/yyyy” format? No problem!Even better, these settings are automatically detected from your browser so no additional action is needed on your end. You’ll start seeing your localized meeting date & time formats the next time you login to Less Meeting.

Bonus feature: Daily Digest emails will now be sent at 7am in your local time zone!

2. Enhanced Meeting Search

On the Meetings Page you can now search for any meeting related items. Most importantly search now includes all past meeting notes, decisions, and action items.You’ll also notice our new search engine is much faster.

Want some advanced search tricks? Try these:

  • “-” to exclude a term from search (e.g. “-status”)
  • “+” to require a term in your search (e.g. “+status”)
  • “*” use as a wildcard (e.g. “statu*”)

3. Improved Team Privacy

Privacy and security is top of mind for us. In addition to our long list of existing security measures, we’ve added additional features to control to what meeting info is accessible to Less Meeting Teams.

In particular you’ll notice that all Teams now require a “Filter Tag” and Team Members must all be on the same License Pack.

New to Less Meeting?Click here to learn how Less Meeting helps you & your teams, no matter where in the world you’re located, start reinventing the way you plan, run and follow up on your meetings.