Making meetings work for you


Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

We all have meetings. At work. With clients. Amongst your team. Have you ever noticed how you can have a great meeting with vocal discussions and lots of energy only to have the apparent momentum fade away to inaction over the following days? I always wondered what I could do to catch that enthusiasm in a bottle and turn it into outcomes. Here’s some of the things I do to achieve that.

I live a double life. No, not in a Secret Agent sort of way which would be cool, but where my roles change according to need. Most days I’m a clinician on the frontline, working with a tight team to help patients out of pain and creating beautiful smiles.

Thrown into the mix however, is the fortune of being part of the wonderful world of Startups and as a cofounder at Verbz.ai. These worlds are far apart and share little in common except the pain of endless meetings. Meetings are how we work with people but can be a constant drain on time and energy without some sort of plan.


Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

I’m a lifelong introvert and rowdy group discussions aren’t my pick of fun things to do. If I must go to a meeting and burn my mental energy, I want to make sure it helps me Get More Done. So, whether it’s a one on one client meeting or an All Hands Team stand-up; I sneak in some simple ways to make this happen. It’s List Time!

Before the Meeting

  • Identify the Purpose and Goal of the meeting and Share it with the participants
    • Ask them to share; “Why do we need to meet?” and “What do we all hope to achieve out of it?”
  • List the topics for discussion and prioritise them
    • Assign each topic a set time to resolve and extra time to discuss and review.

During the Meeting

  • Stick to the Agenda
    • Make someone the Note Taker from the beginning
    • Encourage everyone to participate
    • Agree to be present and not check your email.
  • Capture outcomes and Assign Actions as you go
    • Doing it at the time sharpens accountability and transparently sets expectations whilst giving everyone the opportunity to have their say.
    • I used to write cryptic notes in my fancy notebook which led to hours of work in the evening spinning them up into tasks and emails. As you can imagine, this wasn’t a great way to spend quality time with the family after work. I now assign many actions during the meeting by voice into Verbz.

After the Meeting

  • Send out summary within an hour of the meeting including;
    • Date, time and location
    • Attendees
    • Key points raised and decisions made
    • Motions and voting results if votes taken
    • Who is responsible for what follow-up action and by when
    • Name of the Recorder
  • Most importantly; be persistent in Follow Up.
    • Think about the appropriate time frame to follow up
    • Reinforce the expectations and remind everyone to reach out if issues arise.

“The palest ink is better than the best memory.”


Chinese proverb

Conclusion

When someone quotes something eloquent like this proverb, I always wonder if they’re trying to be clever. I think this one hints that accountability and the recording of important data has always been valued.

Meetings are an unavoidable part of a work day and here I’ve put together some of the tips I use to get the most out of them.

Capturing meeting highlights as soon as possible and assigning tasks in an accountable way are great ways to nurture post meeting momentum.

Feel free to cherry pick what works for you and let me know if it makes meetings better even a little.

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