Productivity Tips For Minuting Meetings
Meetings can be a complete waste of time. However, meetings can also be the key driver of execution in a company. Here, we have listed some of our best productivity tips for helping keeping meetings on track.
What do you want to achieve?
Define a clear purpose. Meetings with a clear purpose is more likely to be effective, and more likely to be attended. (Cosapien allows you to capture the purpose for every meeting series.)
Send out the purpose, along with the invite and agenda. Repeat the purpose at the start of the meeting.
Should your meeting become side-tracked, the purpose allows you to easily steer it back on course.
How necessary is this meeting?
Is the meeting necessary at all? It might sound crazy, but many things can get done without a meeting, and this is one of the most useful productivity tips you can master. (If it can be done without a meeting, it is oft best done without a meeting.) Take the time to consider whether there are other ways to achieve your purpose.
It is often a good idea to check with your superior that they agree that your purpose is important and aligned with the needs of the company. This serves the double purpose of also aligning your work with what your superior considers to be important.
Constrain the meeting
Determine the absolute minimum amount of people needed to achieve your purpose. Only these people should be invited to the meeting. Everyone else who is important, but not critical should be on the distribution list. Check for overlap. Ie, if there are two people with largely overlapping skill then only 1 of them need to be in the meeting.
A key piece is that attendees need to have the mandate to make/approve the decisions to be taken in the meeting. Sometimes a key decision maker will want to send a representative to the meeting. Only allow fully empowered representatives. Otherwise, decisions taken will constantly be reversed. If that is not possible, run the meetings without the representative, put the key decision maker on the distribution list, and give a task to a person in the meeting to get approval on certain decisions before the next meeting.
Determine the absolute minimum amount of time needed to achieve your purpose. Add time allocations to agenda item titles, e.g., “Opening (5 min)”. This will help keep a tight schedule, and also helps people understand the weighting of the different sections.
This combination of attendees (per hour rate) and time constraints allows you to measure the cost of your meeting. You can measure the RoI by reflecting that against the purpose of the meeting.
Constraining increases the effectiveness of meetings by
- Makes conversations quicker, and more easily kept on point
- Minimises cost to company
Pre-minute the meeting:
- It prepares the chair better for their meeting.
- This is especially important if the chair is also the scribe, as it minimises interruptions.
Bonus tip: Ask the person responsible for each section to mail the scribe their pre-minuted section before the meeting (including presentations, reports, etc for attachment).
Before the Meeting
- Follow-up on overdue tasks before the meeting. Ie, remind attendees of overdue tasks, and that you expect to see them addressed before the meeting.
- Send the agenda out before hand. This way all parties know what the meeting will entail, and can better prepare for the meeting.
Bonus tip: Introverts perform better when they can prepare for a meeting (ie, send out the agenda at least 24h in advance).
Develop a rhythm, ie, “this is how it is done”
Have a regular cadence for meetings. Greater productivity will result if a meeting is held at a set interval (e.g., weekly) with clear expectations of each person on what they will be reporting on each time (e.g., pipeline report and all experiments ran) with the questions that will be asked (e.g., what did you learn).
Send a clear and consistent message on expectations that before meetings the tasks either be completed or that new deadlines be agreed. (Both of which can be easily done in Cosapien.)
Minute all key decision and discussions. Do this in the 3rd person so that minutes are easily read in future. Minute as if you have no insider knowledge of the meeting, so that it can be understood in 3 months. As people change on your project, these discussions and decisions will be critical to avoid scope creep, and to maintain focus (ie, avoid wasting time on rehashing past decisions). Bonus tip: Include assumptions and reasoning in decisions, so that they make sense when revisiting them
Send the minutes out to all attendees and distributees as soon as possible after the meeting. (Cosapien automatically does this for you, as soon as you publish the meeting minutes.) This way attendees receive the minutes with their tasks while the meeting is still fresh in their minds.
Follow-up after minutes are sent out that everyone agrees to do the tasks captured in the minutes. (Integrated into Cosapien, as it splits out all task request from minutes into individual requests.) Otherwise, people arrive at the next meeting claiming that the scribe captured the task wrongly or that they didn’t know about it.
The productivity tips above will help you improve the effectiveness of your meetings. Interested in using Cosapien to help you execute on those tips? Join here.