Part of every business life: meetings! Meetings can be fun and productive, meetings can also be frustrating and annoying. They can feel like a waste of time – or they can feel like great teamwork and a successful step towards your project goal.
What makes the difference?
As a freelancer I step into this trap over and over again – because every project means working with a new team for me, means new adjustment, new tools. But here are some common guidelines that I learned to bring with me to every meeting to avoid frustration.
A meeting will be more productive if everyone is aware of the purpose and the goals that need to be achieved. If you set up a meeting make sure that you inform everyone about:
- The agenda/ the topics
- The reason for this meeting
- The goal (this meeting is a success if we accomplish xyz)
If you are being invited to a meeting make sure that you ask for this information upfront so you can contribute to achieving the common goal.
Timeline & Agenda
A meeting will be on time if we have a good understanding of what we want to achieve, and if we keep track of the time during the meeting.
Prepare your meeting by creating an agenda and anticipating how much time you will need for each section/ outcome. Use timers during the meeting to remind yourself about your schedule.
Your phone is one simple tool for setting a timer. Timeanddate offer a simple way to set multiple timers which can be great for meetings with several topics.
Summarize your meeting with a task list and the next steps. What needs to get done, who is responsible and when is the next interaction happening. Action items most often occur at the end of a meeting. You don’t have to focus too much on constant note taking to identify action items – rather stay focus on the discussions. Identify each agreement though and turn it into an action item or simply capture a decision for future reference.
There are many online tools out there that try to support better note taking & sharing action items. One tool I am currently testing for myself os Cisco Spark Meeting Notes – free tool, offers lots of integrations (i.e. Trello, Asana, Slack, Evernote) and works well with multiple calendars.