5 Steps to More Productive Meetings
1. Instill Time Integrity in Your Attendees
Have you ever worked in an organisation where people need to be picked up from their desks and dragged to the assigned meeting room? Frustrating, isn’t it? Instilling time integrity within your team is extremely important to ensuring time isn’t wasted. Meetings should commence promptly on time and ideally finish just before time.
Tip: Set your meeting time to finish 10 minutes earlier (e.g. 50 minutes for a typical hour-long meeting).
2. Send The Agenda Out Before The Meeting
Most people know how important it is to have a meeting agenda to keep the meeting on track, but it’s not often this is sent around prior to the meeting. If I have an important meeting with lots of line items for discussion, I will circulate an agenda at least a week prior, asking everyone to review the agenda to prepare their thinking and as well as flag any additional discussion points that they may wish to raise. Sending the agenda a week out also allows time for a second follow-up mid-week. In my experience, this has led to far more productive meetings since attendees are arriving with considered and well-formulated thinking for robust discussion. That’s my kind of meeting!
3. Consider The Meeting Time
Hoping for everyone’s best thinking first thing in the morning pre-coffee or late afternoon is asking for trouble. If I have an early morning meeting planned, a trick of mine is to ask for everyone’s coffee order and surprise the team with coffee. It’s a great way to start on the right foot and there are no excuses for participation since – you’ve gifted them caffeine!
4. Determine Whether a Break is Required
If you’re running a long meeting (more than 1 hour) consider whether it’s worth adding a 5-10 minute break to the agenda. Encourage attendees to stretch their legs, check their email/phones or get a snack. Baking in breaks can limit distractions when you’re needing to remain focused.
5. Define Clear Actions
Before the meeting finishes, go around the table asking every person what their key takeaway is, what they are to action and by when. The action of doing this not only ensures any misunderstandings can be cleared up, but ensures full accountability since individuals are verbalising what they are responsible for in a room of people.
Milligram Stationery Review
I’m a sucker for a beautiful piece of stationery, aren’t you? Just in case the name “Small Paper Things” didn’t give that away.
Despite being a digital marketer for the best part of a decade (and I absolutely love my digital productivity tools as well) I will always be a pen and paper gal when it comes to brainstorming, journaling, ideating and taking notes in meetings. I love to be able to draw diagrams, circle important key notes and mind-map. So when Milligram recently gifted me two of their new pieces, I had to give them a whirl right that afternoon in my next meeting.
The Meeting Book:
Milligram’s “Meeting Book” is a purpose-built, lightweight, notebook to take with you to every meeting. Slightly smaller than A4 in size, it actually fits perfectly between the lid and keypad in my laptop which makes it easy to transport with me as I strut around the office (yes, I strut, don’t you?). There’s a lot to love about this divine piece of stationery but here are a few of my favourite key features:
- Prompts for “Who” (i.e. meeting attendees), discussion points and actions
- I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of a pointless meeting. I love that Milligram has made jotting down “actions” a key feature of the notebook. It serves as a great prompt to finish meetings with clear tasks for all parties involved (love a little accountability).
- Right hand side dotted “grid” for drawing.
- I use this space for my mind mapping or for drawing an example of what I’m visualising in my mind to a colleague (usually when we’re ideating content marketing executions). The dots make it easy to draw straight lines if necessary but don’t detract from the drawing in the way a harsh lined grid would.
- A big, bright orange grid for your key takeaways
- I am one of those people who refers back to notes often and there’s nothing worse than having to spending too much time having to skim all of your notes when you’re in a rush. I love that this feature prompts me to quickly jot down the key points raised in the meeting. Sometimes I use this section to note a key stakeholder who wants to remain involved in a project or a note to “watch out” for a political pot hole.
The Memo Pad:
While there’s not as much to say about this piece, I do want to make note of the paper quality. I only use one type of pen; the Uniball eye in the size “micro”. Any roller-ball pen user will know that the only con to these beautiful pens is using a poor quality paper to write on. Not only do I appreciate that the Milligram Memo Pad does not shadow on the underside, but it also doesn’t bleed – win.
Please note, Milligram were kind enough to gift these pieces to me. Links are not affiliate links. All opinions are my own.