On this page:
  • Rock those meeting minutes
  • Notes from Quantified Self Toronto, October 27, 2010
  • Meeting resolutions
  • Book: The Hamster Revolution for Meetings

Rock those meeting minutes

It boggles me when people don’t take minutes during a meeting. How do people make sure that all the important decisions and actions are captured? When people run from meeting to meeting or get buried in e-mail and calendar entries, it’s so easy to let things fall through the cracks.

In my consulting engagement, I’m the minute-taker because I’m the fastest typist in the room. (Also, it helps that I can type and participate in the meeting.) At higher-level meetings where the clackety clack of a laptop keyboard might be distracting, I’ll keep quick paper notes anyway.

Here are some tips for taking meeting minutes. (Click on the image for a larger version!)

2013-11-08 Note-taking tips for meeting minutes

Projecting the agenda/minutes (or sharing them shortly afterwards) helps keep everyone on the same page and catches many possible miscommunications. It’s good to remember that you can guide the flow of the conversation with questions. I often work with the meeting chair to make sure that we cover the agenda at a good pace, and that agenda items that need decisions or tasks are neatly wrapped up. You can create a lot of value by taking the minutes, so volunteer for this whenever you can.

Notes from Quantified Self Toronto, October 27, 2010

Bits from the meetup: automated tracking of computer activity, CureTogether.com for aggregated health self-reporting of conditions and treatments, and the oddly popular desire for a statistical silver bullet that will crunch your data and tell you what’s potentially interesting about you, instead of you coming up with questions and designing proper experiments. This makes me think about t-tests and how you can do too many tests for significance (PDF). Intentional experiments may be slower, but I think they’re worth it.

Anyway, here are the notes!

I took these notes using Microsoft OneNote 2007 on a Lenovo X61T tablet. I then exported the graphics to the Gimp, did a little bit of editing, and uploaded them to Gallery2 on my blog. See my other sketch-related blog posts, or check out my other sketches in the gallery.

Meeting resolutions

I want to participate in and facilitate better meetings. Here are some resolutions I will strive towards:

  • I will make sure all my meetings have clear objectives and agendas.
  • I will limit meeting invitation to people who are necessary, and I will explain their involvement.
  • I will follow up with action items that name specific people with responsibilities.
  • I will make sure meeting invites include call-in numbers for all the countries expected.
  • I will make sure meeting invites include web conference instructions if needed.
  • I will not use the mute button.
  • I will not multitask.
  • I will schedule meetings so that people have enough time to transition from their previous meeting and to their next meeting. This probably means starting five minutes after the hour, and ending in 20 minutes or 45/50 minutes.
  • I will insist that participants do not take calls from their cars, and will reschedule if necessary.
  • I will schedule meetings at least two days in advance, to give people time to respond.
  • I will send materials at least one day in advance.

Looking forward to adding to this list as I learn more!

Book: The Hamster Revolution for Meetings

The Hamster Revolution for Meetings: How to Meet Less and Get More Done
Mike Song, Vicki Halsey, and Tim Buress, 2009

(This link is an Amazon affiliate link, but if you’re near a public library, take advantage of it. I borrowed this book from the Toronto Public Library. =) )

Reading voraciously—almost indiscriminately—has its benefits. Despite cheesy gimmicks, The Hamster Revolution for Meetings turned out to have surprisingly good tips that take virtual meetings into account.

Tips for all meetings are on page 20, paraphrased here:

  • P: Priority: Make sure meetings relate to your top goals for the year.
  • O: Objenda™: Make sure your meetings have a clear objective and an agenda that supports it. Use meeting templates to make sure you share the objective, agenda, and other details up front. As an organizer, have someone responsible for keeping the meeting on track. As a participant, take the initiative in helping the meeting stay on track.
  • S: Shorten: Shorten your meetings. Schedule 20-minute or 50-minute meetings to give people some breathing space.
  • E: E-vailable™: Make sure your calendar reflects all of your commitments. If possible, color-code your calendar to show priorities and balance.

For Web meetings, she suggested a number of things we already do (use Web conferences, chat channels, surveys, etc.). She added a few more tips I’m going to think about and try, including a Mystery team member icebreaker (p61). She also provides an excellent checklist for managing virtual meetings on p77, which include tips for preventing problems and controlling damage. The key ones I’m going to add to my routine are:

  • Arrive early: use the 30/15 Rule
  • Create a technical difficulties slide
  • Determine secondary communication plan
  • Have a disaster recovery plan

Worth reading and summarizing in your personal notes.