The Secret to Short and Effective Meetings


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Ineffective meetings are the result of three problems:
- decisions are not made, clearly understood and agreed to during the meeting;
- there is no mechanism for quickly arriving at those decisions; and
-decisions made are not properly documented for accountability and follow-up after the meeting.

Live information capture solves all three of these problems.

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The Secret to Short and Effective Meetings

  1. 1. The Secret to Short andEffective Meetings 9909 Mira Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92131 Phone: 858-225-3374 Toll Free: 800-817-4271 Fax: 858-225-3390
  2. 2. Meetings: the “M” WordWhy do people hate meetings?  They waste time. There is no clear purpose and direction for the meeting.  They are inconclusive. People leave the meeting each with a different idea of what was decided, or no idea what – if anything – was decided.  They don’t accomplish anything. Action is promised but never implemented, and no one is called to account.In a word, they are ineffective. The time invested is not worth the outcome.In a survey of Microsoft® employees known as Microsoft Office Personal Productivity Challenge (PPC), the resultsfound that on average people spend 5.5 hours a week in meetings, and 71% feel that meetings are typically 2unproductive . The survey also found that the most common pitfalls are unclear objectives, lack of team 3communication followed by unclear priorities .If we could make them even as little as 25% more effective, our productivity would improve by morethan $1,500 per year per employee.Live Information CaptureThe secret to short, effective meetings is to capture the decisions and action items assigned during themeeting in a common document that each person can see as changes are made. You can do this bydisplaying the meeting document live to the entire group on a projector or via shared desktop using anonline meeting platform such as WebEx™ or GoToMeeting™. This is called “live information capture”and literally puts everyone on the same page.Typically, people attending a meeting take their own private notes. Sometimes, minutes of the meetingare published by one of the note takers but not until later, so any miscommunications or omissionsdon’t surface until after the meeting is over; perhaps not at all. Ineffective meetings are the result ofthree problems:1. decisions are not made, clearly understood and agreed to during the meeting;2. there is no mechanism for quickly arriving at those decisions; and3. decisions made are not properly documented for accountability and follow-up after the meeting.Live information capture solves all three of these problems.2 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. With live information capture, there is one common document that is visible to all of the people in themeeting. This document shows the goals of the meeting and is modified in real time to record thedecisions made and action items assigned during the meeting for all to see. Each person leaves themeeting with a copy of the same document as a common set of minutes. The same document is used tofollow up on action items at the start of the next meeting, ensuring accountability.Formats for Live Information CaptureOne way you could implement live information capture is to make notes using word processor andproject them onto conference room screen. However using text-based notes in this way is cumbersomeand difficult to follow. This is why you will rarely see this done, even though word processors have beenaround for more than 20 years. A much more practical way is to use a hub format. Product Launch Meeting Dates Final Beta Review copies Announcement Ship PR Campaign Press Release Reviews Road ShowA hub is a visual representation of a text outline, but is much easier to create, read and edit in real time.The hub format is short for “hub and spoke.”A hub has a central shape that represents a central idea (the subject of the meeting, for example). Theshapes attached to the spokes are components of this idea, called topics (the agenda items, forexample).Hub topics can themselves be the center of a set of sub-topic shapes and so on.3 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. Conducting a Meeting with Live Information CaptureUsing live capture with a hub format is only possible if you use a tool like SmartDraw that is designed tomake it simple.Establish a Clear Purpose for the MeetingBegin by creating an agenda for the meeting in the hub format before you hold the meeting. Open aMind Map template in SmartDraw.Add topics for each of the major items you need to handle in the meeting. We’ll use a software productlaunch as an example:4 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  5. 5. Display and Capture Information during the MeetingDuring the meeting, use a projector (or a shared desktop) to display the agenda hub to all of theattendees. Use the topics to drive discussion towards more detail, decisions and action items. Captureinformation as additional topics or sub topics by modifying the hub in real time during the discussion.In our example, we added more detailed tasks to the topics and a new topic, “training for the salesteam.”Because this information is captured live in front of the group, communication and consensus is clear.Assign Tasks with AccountabilityThe next step is to assign these tasks to attendees. SmartDraw makes this simple with a specialAssignment View. This is a view with the people as the topics and the tasks they are to perform as subtopics. Clicking on the Assignment View tab switches the view.Initially, all tasks are unassigned.5 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  6. 6. You can add people or tasks using simple keyboard commands, or by clicking a button.You move a task by simply dragging it from one person to another.6 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. Use the controls to add attendees and then drag the tasks for which they are responsible to their box.7 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. Doing this live so that everyone in the meeting can see what tasks they are being assigned and see whattasks others are being assigned, results in clear communication and creates accountability. Everyone cansee what tasks everyone else has been assigned. Your meeting really does lead to action and results.After the meetingGive everyone who attends a copy of the hub built during the meeting. This can be done electronicallyor by printing it. You can email the document directly from SmartDraw. The recipient does not need acopy of SmartDraw to view the emailed copy.SmartDraw also integrates with SharePoint® and you can manage it as a shared document usingSharePoint.The hub replaces the minutes of the meeting. There is no room for different recollections of whatactions were decided, or who is responsible for them, because these are made clear to everyone duringthe meeting and afterwards.The final step is to follow up with a second meeting that begins with a review of the meeting hub andthe progress that each person has made towards the completion of their tasks. Again, this is donepublically in the meeting. This creates real accountability. Buy and save $100 for a limited time.8 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  9. 9. Download a copy of To watch a video showing If you prefer to contact one SmartDraw for free by how easy it is to conduct a of our product specialists, clicking here. visual meeting with click here or call us at 800- SmartDraw, click here. 817-42719 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.