Making meetings effective is something that I think about every week. I spend a lot of my time in meetings, and it always seems like I could use more time outside of them for the rest of my job. Everyone seems to agree about this. Meetings are a necessary evil, but they don’t have to be wasteful.
A key to making meetings more productive for me has been providing my meeting agenda items to the other person in advance. It does two great things for me. First, it makes me think carefully about what I want to use the time to talk about. Second it makes me organize topics either in order of priority if I think that time is a consideration, or in a flow that makes sense for the conversation. Finally, it makes me prep for the meeting and identifies any prep work that I need to do to get ready for the meeting.
I have a fairly simple system for collecting potential agenda items. I keep an agenda folder in whichever notes app I am currently using, for instance Apple Notes or Bear. I’m currently using NotePlan all day, and should probably blog about that at some point.
For each person or group who I meet with on a regular basis, I have a separate note in an “Agendas” folder, even if those meetings are sporadic. As I go through my day, as it occurs to me or comes up in a meeting that I need to discuss something with one of those people, I will command tab over to their agenda note and add the item.
Then, the day before or a few hours before I meet with the person or group, I comb through the items I have collected, and turn them into an agenda that I either email or Slack to that person. I generally try and do it well before the meeting, this allows the other person or people to think about the topics and prepare if need be. There are times, however, when I am just using that list in the moment to make sure I don’t miss something.
A week later, or whenever I need to meet with that person or group again, I’m also able to see what we discussed last time, and can leverage that to follow up on any items that require more conversation.
This system is pretty simple, but it has worked really well for me.