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Monday
Nov042013

Meeting Gold version 4.5.0 Released.

Version 4.5.0 has been released to the App Store this morning. Following on from version 4.4 this also fixes a couple of iOS7 issues.

Thursday
Jun202013

How to get people to take action after meetings

You've attended the meeting and taken meticulous notes. You didn't miss a single detail and you managed to capture everything that was said. You are feeling pretty pleased with yourself as you send out the meeting notes immediately after the meeting. However, as time goes by you are dismayed to discover that nobody has read the notes and agreed actions have been ignored. Why has your meeting summary failed to be effective?

Ineffective meeting summary notes can be an excuse for the lack of action

One of the key criticisms people level at meetings is that they are a waste of time. They say, "nothing changes as a result of the meeting so it was a waste of time". They are often right. There is no point having a meeting if some meaningful action doesn't result from it. Ineffective meeting summary notes can be an excuse for the lack of action.

Often, meeting note takers are obsessed with getting every last detail in writing. That's okay as long as the key details are not hidden in a forest of text.  The notes must be structured so that when attendees look through them later it is easy to find the actions they are responsible for. If they have to spend time hunting through paragraphs of text to find the actions they won't do it.

So how do you structure your meeting notes to make actions clear? The best way to do it is to extract all the actions into a table which is shown right at the start of your meeting summary notes. The table should show what the action is and who is responsible for it. It should also ideally note when the action will be done. These things should have been explicitly agreed in the meeting as each action was assigned and at the end of the meeting should have been read through to ensure that everyone understood what they had to do. Then the rest of the detailed notes can follow in the rest of the meeting summary document.

Structure your meeting notes so that actions are clearly highlighted.

Having the actions right at the start of the notes in a clearly labelled table makes them really easy to find and each person can find their own actions quickly. This makes it much more likely that the actions will get done.

Now, if you are thinking you don't have time to write up meeting notes that way or you think that it is a chore to send out meeting notes without having to spend extra time editing them into a more useable format you need to realise that you are not using the right tool for the job. If you are using pen and paper, writing up and reformatting will take time. If you are using a word processor or text editor then it will take time to reformat and send out. Knowing that should be proof enough that these are the wrong tools for the job. There are now tools like Meeting Gold that do the job for you, instantly without any effort on your part. If you are not using a tool like Meeting Gold for your meeting note taking then you are simply being far less effective than you could be. You are using time that you don't need to use when you write up notes after a meeting.

Use an app that is specifically written to make meeting notes more effective.

So, write as much text as you like in your meeting notes, capture as much detail as you feel you need. But, at a minimum make sure that the actions are clearly stated and that they are easy to find, ideally in a clear table at the start of the notes.

 

Image credit: coward_lion / 123RF Stock Photo

Saturday
May182013

The Meeting Recap: how to do it for maximum effect. 

All too often meetings finish rather quickly. People are relieved to get out and are eager to get on with the next thing. However, before closing any meeting it is essential to recap what was decided.

The most important part of the recap is to check that all agreed actions are properly understood. If you do nothing else other than just check that the actions are clear you will improve the effectiveness of your meetings greatly. Letting people leave a meeting where they are slightly unsure of what the actions are is a sure recipe for nothing happening.

Recapping actions at the end of a meeting is easy and essential

Recapping actions is really easy if you have noted them properly on the way through the meeting. Ideally you are using a great meeting note taking app like Meeting Gold that makes this really easy. But even if you are just using pen and paper you should have some consistent way to clearly mark actions in your notes as you go through the meeting so that they are easy to find at the end and you don't miss anything. 

So, as the meeting progresses mark actions in your notes and for each one note who is responsible for the action, specifically what the action is i.e. what you all collectively expect the outcome of the action to be. Ask yourself, "how will the world be different after the action is complete?" and write that down as the description of the action. Doing this will help to clarify what will happen and will have a direct impact on how effective the action is. You should also note when you expect the action to be complete by.

Recap actions at the end of a meeting to gain commitment to getting things done

At the end of the meeting you need to go through each action and check that the person responsible understands the action and when you all expect it to be done. If you are using Meeting Gold just select the 'action view' and you will see a list of just the actions. You can read through each quickly and easily and be sure that you won't have missed anything. If you've used another form of note taking you'll have to manually go through each action being careful not to miss any.

For each action do the recap like this:

  1. Read out the person responsible first. Get their attention by looking them in the eye, "John, this action is yours".
  2. Read out the title of the action and the expected outcome.
  3. Read out the due date.
  4. Look the person in the eye again and ask them, "Is that okay and will you get it done on time?" 

Specifically doing the recap this way gains much more commitment to the action than any other way of doing it. They are giving you a personal commitment to get it done and it makes it much harder for them to later claim that they didn't understand or they were not aware of the action.

Send out meeting notes immediately at the end of the meeting

Once you've read through the actions you can close the meeting. You should then instantly send out the meeting notes which show a clear summary of the actions. You shouldn't underestimate the power of sending out the notes immediately. If you wait a few days to write them up then you should expect that your meeting will be much less effective as people will be far less likely to look at the notes and work on the actions. There is no excuse for not sending out the meeting notes immediately. There are plenty of good tools available that allow you to take notes and distribute them at the end of the meeting.

So, to recap:

  1. Take great notes that clearly show actions.
  2. At the end of the meeting go through each action and ensure that each person knows what they are supposed to do.
  3. Send out meeting notes immediately that clearly show all expected actions.

 

 

Friday
Apr262013

Version 4.3 of Meeting Gold now available on the App Store

I'm pleased to announce version 4.3 of Meeting Gold is now available on the Apple App Store. It tidies up a couple of minor issues, principally a Dropbox bug that slowed the app down when disconnected from the internet.

Friday
Apr122013

Version 4.2 of Meeting Gold is now available

Version 4.2 of Meeting Gold is now available on the App Store for download. It contains a bug fix for searching tags, categories and projects.