Meetings: Wasting of Time?

2015-08-29 19_42_35-Meetings_ A Love and Hate Affair [Infographic]

Are meetings are wasting of your time? Unfortunately, meetings are often treated as waste of time by majorities of employees of the world. According to a recent infographic compiled by Lane End Conference Centre, 49% of employees consider unfocused meetings and projects as the biggest workplace time waste. However the good news is that they can be substantially improved by observing a few simple rules. For instance, those leading the meeting should spend more time on making meetings more engaging with things like visuals and activities.

Running the Annual Assembly for Your Club, Association or Corporation

All Clubs, associations and corporate groups who gather once a year for an annual meeting can find some help organizing this event in the following paragraphs.To build the right setting in order to tackle major decisions around budget, HR issues, and strategic goals, a few tasks need to be conquered. We asked Event Inc, the online event & location experts, how to best plan an annual assembly.

First of all, its essential to know an association rules, laws and statutes. Oftentimes, the constitution dictates that all decisions are legally binding. Sometimes, the constitution of an association also dictates the procedure and schedule by which an annual meeting must be structured by. When fixing a date for the assembly, consider that the date should not be during vacation because many members are on holiday at this time. Other faux-pas are: setting the assembly on dates such as national holidays or major sports events such as football events.

When the date is set, you can start searching for a suitable location. The location should be easily accessible for all members. Other important points are: availability of technical equipment, capacity of the location, finding a space with a great atmosphere, where your members feel comfortable, and other smaller points such as outside space (for smokers), air conditioning (summer), parking spaces etc. If the meeting takes places over several days, accommodation close the the location becomes essential.

Furthermore, you should think about a framework program for the assembly. An excursion or a dinner are great opportunities for a relaxed get-together. All important program points and the conference schedule should summarized in an agenda sent our prior the the assembly. AgreeDo helps you to accomplish that by providing a central location to organize all agenda points.

An last but not least: a good catering partner is of essence to make you assembly members happy. Some location have great catering in house, some ask you to bring their own catering. Just make sure: There is always enough food, coffee & snacks. Ideally, both vegetarian and meat options. Do ask whether anyone has any food intolerances or a kosher or halal preference.

When all major points above are cast in stone, its time for the invitation. Mostly sent out via post, but AgreeDo may also be handful, especially as members may use it to add their own points for agenda points.

Last but not least, the aftercare of such an event is essential: you should sent a summary of all discussed points to the attendees. Also, include members of your organization who couldn’t make it to the assembly. Make sure all important discussion points and decisions are included.

5 Useful Tips for Good Meeting Agendas

by Jorma Bork (pixelio.de)

by Jorma Bork (pixelio.de)

  1. Keep meetings short. Normally plan for 45 minutes to gain best meeting performance. Of course, there are  exceptions, but normally you’ll want to keep it short. Therefore, the agenda needs to be short, too.  For each topic use precise and short descriptions. Put all additional info within comments!
  2. Try to estimate the time each topic will take and add this information to the agenda items. For example:
    “Wrap up about project status at customer xyz (7 minutes)”
  3. Do not use general descriptions. Be as precise as possible about the intended discussion. Sometimes it’s a good idea to use questions as topics.
  4. Put the overall target of the meeting into your invitation text for the meeting. Tell your attendees why they need to meet and what the intended outcomes or results are. “No-one leaves before xyz is settled”
  5. If you want your attendees to prepare some info on certain topics, make sure to assign them to the attendees and plan for enough time for the preparation! You need to send out your agenda early enough so that attendees can come up well prepared.

Tipp: How to use topics?

Use topics with short and precise titles. This gives attendees best overview of the meeting to come.
Remember that you can shrink / expand each topic level. By shrinking the top level you can give a rough overview to all attendees when the meeting begins.

What to know about “public meetings” in AgreeDo?

When you create a meeting with the checkbox “public meeting” set, the meeting is accessible for everyone who has the link to meeting. So there is no security at all for that. Therefore it’s called public :-).

For additional security we advise to use a password for the meeting and forward it to the attendees on a secure channel.

Public meetings are good where there are people who haven’t got an agreedo account (and don’t intend to create one).

Moving meeting minutes to the cloud pros-and cons!

Is it a good idea to move meeting minutes to the cloud like AgreeDo.com? Especially in times where NSA uses systems like prism to download all communication to their servers…

Collarboration around the globe

Pro:

  • Sharing meeting minutes in the cloud let’s you easily collaborate with people from within your company and people outside.
  • No software installation necessary, just a browser.

Cons:

  • Security threads no only from NSA but also industrial espionage

It’s time for your feedback. Do you want to add some pros and cons to it? Drop your comment here!

How to Handle Recurring Meetings

To understand how recurring meetings work in AgreeDo, you first need to understand how meetings work in general in AgreeDo.

The first step to prepare a meeting with AgreeDo is to create an agenda and send it to the attendees of the meeting. During the meeting, you can add new items and comments, so you have your meeting minutes ready at the end of the meeting.

Usually, the next step is to create a follow-up meeting (there’s a button on the top of each agenda to do this). This allows you to take the items from your meeting minutes to the agenda of a new meeting. So you can keep the points which should be followed-up or discussed again, and you can drop the issues which are resolved or don’t need further discussion.

One very important thing to know is that tasks created in one meeting and copied to the follow-up meeting are linked to the two meetings. So if you add comments to the task or change its progress, it will show up in both meetings. This even works if you have a task in more than two meetings in a row. You will always see the latest status of a task.

So here’s how you can handle your recurring meetings within AgreeDo:

  1. Prepare your agenda with all the important topics once
  2. During the meeting, take your meeting minutes
  3. After the meeting minutes are finished, create a follow-up meeting, import all topics to be discussed regularly
  4. Continue on step 2.

How to use AgreeDo together with Google Calendar?

Here’s how you can use AgreeDo together with Google Calendar:

When you schedule a meeting, you can invite the attendees to your meeting by pressing the “Send Invitation” button. This email contains a so called ICS attachment. You can open this attachment in GMail to import the meeting into your Google Calendar (see screenshot below).

google_calendar

In case you want to schedule a AgreeDo meeting using Google Calendar just follow the steps below:

  1. Create a meeting in AgreeDo and copy the url for this meeting from the browser window. The URL of the meeting looks similar to this: https://www.agreedo.com/MeetingApp.html#meeting;id=00000
  2. Now create a meeting in Google Calendar and paste the URL of your meeting into the invitation body of your calendar entry.

How to write perfect meeting minutes?

Here′s a summary of the most important comments from the ongoing discussion on LinkedIn about “What are the 5 most important rules for writing perfect meeting minutes?”.

Know your meeting type!

The right type of meeting minutes depend on the type of your meeting. Whether it’s the summary of a board meeting or a brain storming, makes a huge difference in what to write down!

Know your audience!

Be sure for whom you write you meeting minutes. Know their culture and their expectations. Whether they are used to a more narrative style or a more terse style (just facts). If you ask me, I am more on the short and to the point style side :-)

Keep it short !

If you rewrite the current status too often the meeting minutes get useless. So try to only write those points down which are nearing their deadline and are currently most important. leave out all the others or group them together under another topic.

Keep the focus!

When meetings lose their focus it’s likely that their minutes also have no focus. So try to remember the purpose and the targets of the meeting. Take this as a starting point for deciding what items (i.e. decisions, tasks, important info) should be part of your minutes.

Know your people!

An important part of meeting minutes are tasks, due dates and their assignees. You need to be carefull of whom to send a reminder (in the meeting minutes). People who are well organized don’t need reminders. Therefore sending them a reminder could run you in problems! On the other hand you will have attendees and tasks assignees who regularly need reminders on their tasks. Remind them, and make sure they know they are constantly tracked.

There are lots of other good hints for perfect meeting minutes in the above mentioned discussion on linked in. So drop in and read of all it or even add your comments!

Why AgreeDo Is Better Than Google Docs

When people hear about AgreeDo the first time, a lot of them tell us that they would rather use existing tools, like Google Docs or Microsoft Word. These programs also allow you to write an agenda or write down the meeting minutes. And Google Docs even allows the agenda to be shared easily between many participants of a meeting. So where exactly is the advantage of AgreeDo?

Piece of papaer – AgreeDo's better than that.

When you write down your meeting minutes in Google Docs, it’s not more than a piece of paper. Of course this piece of paper is shared online, but still the document itself does not know much about its content. For example, if you write down a task like this in your minutes:

Bob: please prepare the sales presentation till end of next week

This looks simple, but contains important information. A task (preparing the presentation) has to be completed by a certain person (Bob) and within a certain timeframe (end of next week). A piece of paper and Google Docs won’t care about this. It’s just some words for them, not more.

This is where AgreeDo’s advantages come to play: AgreeDo knows Bob (by his email address). So AgreeDo sends Bob an email with the information that he was asked to prepare the presentation. Also, AgreeDo will send him another email if the task has not been marked as completed by the end of next week.

Using Google Docs or a piece of paper, writing these two reminder emails would be the job of the team manager or whoever is responsible for this. So AgreeDo saves this person extra work at this point.

Actually, this was just one example where AgreeDo offers extra help. AgreeDo also supports tracking decisions, i.e. the main outcome of most meetings. Also, AgreeDo helps you preparing a meeting, sending the invitation, or managing regular meetings using the “follow-up”-feature.

Image by curtesy of Claire Cessford