The running joke about meetings is summed up in a Dilbert cartoon, where several people assembled around a table listen as the meeting organizer says, “There is no specific agenda for this meeting. As usual, we’ll just make unrelated emotional statements about things that bother us. …”
As an admin, you may be tasked with helping to set agendas, scheduling and taking minutes. But how much power do you have to keep meetings productive? Plenty.
Beyond setting meeting rules, of course, Google has created an entire culture around measurement and results. You may find that not all of these tips are replicable at your office. But it’s a place to start.
1. Set a firm agenda. Even a five-minute meeting must have an agenda that outlines what participants want to talk about and how the time will be used. Why? It forces people to think about what they want to accomplish.
Tip: Create an agenda template that places a goal next to each item and a time limit. Circulate in advance to stakeholders.
2. Make meeting progress visible. At Google, you’d see several projector displays during a meeting. One might be a PowerPoint presentation, one would be a ticking stopwatch (more on that later) and another projector would show the transcription of the meeting as it happens. Any inaccuracies can be fixed on the spot.
Tip: Circulate your official notes to anyone attending or who missed the meeting, so he or she can see the actions that need to be taken.
Ensure your meetings are time well spent. Keep an actionable record of your meeting minutes and what comes next. Here's how...3. Embrace the idea of micro-meetings. For an executive who holds 70 meetings per week, huddles can’t always last as long as an hour, or even 30 minutes. Mayer sets aside chunks of time for meetings, and then carves out smaller five- or 10-minute time slots as needed.
That could be the perfect solution for one admin, who wrote, “I support a C-level executive and am always looking for ways to reduce the amount of meetings he needs to attend. There are not enough hours in the day to accommodate all the high-priority meetings.”
By setting aside time for micro-meetings, it encourages others to consider how much time they truly need. Thirty-minute meetings are no longer the default.
4. “Don’t politic, use data.” One of Mayer’s firm beliefs is that ideas should move forward because they’re the best, not because the person behind the idea is favored by leaders. The latter can demoralize staffers.
At meetings, use phrases that emphasize data, rather than internal politics. For example, instead of saying, “I like that one,” say, “The customer-response data shows that this one performs 10% better.”
5. Stick to the clock. About that projected image of a timer mentioned earlier: It serves as a reminder during meetings that things need to run on schedule. At Google, it keeps meetings focused, subtly nudging attendees toward efficient time-management.
Effective Minute-Taking: Tips to Improve Your Meeting-Recording Skills is your essential guide to streamlined meetings and more productive outcomes.
Effective Minute-Taking goes through the process step-by-step, from the eight things you must do before a meeting starts … to the proper format for submitting minutes once the meeting is over … and everything in between.
Part I: Pre-Meeting Preparation
Part II: During the Meeting
- 8 keys steps to take in advance
Part III: After the Meeting
- Prepare your mind to filter information
- Key information to capture
- Beyond taking notes: your conduct
Part IV: Minute-Taking Q & A's
- Turning to production
- Putting on the finishing touches
- Correcting, filing and indexing
Appendix: Sample Meeting Minutes
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