Stop time-wasting meetings in their tracks

I once spent 90 minutes listening to someone describe, in excruciating detail, a concept that they’d already shown me 2 weeks earlier. Why did I do this? Because I didn’t want to be rude. Because we’d set aside 2 hours for the meeting anyway, so we might as well fill the time. Because we hadn’t confirmed the discussion points beforehand. Sound familiar?

Fortunately, there is an answer! You can use iMindMap to save you time before, during and after meetings; ensure that you don’t fall asleep from boredom; and guarantee you get something worthwhile out of it. Here’s how…


1. Be strict in your planning

Make a map to plan your meeting, starting with the objectives. What do you need to get out of this meeting? What is the point? Outline an agenda that is specifically targeted at those objectives. Anything that isn’t relevant must either be scrapped or discussed at another time.

If there is extra information on the meeting topic, you can put this in a document and attach it to your map for attendees to review before the meeting. Before is far better than during if you want more considered ideas or quality feedback.

Next consider the ‘Who’. Who needs to be involved in this agenda? If someone is only on the list because they need to be kept in the loop, rather than to actually contribute, then cross their name off and send them the meeting minutes afterwards. The more people involved, the longer the meeting will run and the more tangents you will wander off on.

Remember – there is no rule to say every person needs to be present for the whole meeting either. Think of it like a play; actors are only on stage when they have something to say or something to respond to. Otherwise, they would just be standing awkwardly, taking up space.

Finally, address the details such as time, location, supplies etc.  When complete you can send the map to all of the attendees before the meeting.

2. Capture the important bits only

If you are capturing the minutes from a meeting, you will usually find yourself furiously trying to scribble down everything that is said, missing huge chunks and not being able to contribute anything yourself. Using iMindMap on your laptop or tablet instead can save you a ton of time.

To keep your notes clear, use a branch for every topic or person/department involved in the meeting. When anything is discussed that is relevant to that topic/person, you can add it onto that branch. This way you can maintain a coherent structure to your notes without having to squeeze extra points into the margin when the discussion suddenly backpeddles to an earlier topic.

Sometimes an exact transcript may be required, but for the majority of meetings thekey points will suffice. Try to let go of the fear of missing something important – ironically this is far more likely to happen if you try to write down every word. Use key words wherever possible instead and make use of the Audio Notes feature to record sections of the conversation if you don’t want to have to worry about capturing it yourself.

For every topic you should also have a separate branch for Action Points that will show what needs to be done to achieve the related objectives. You can also use Relationship arrows to show information that is connected or will impact on certain tasks. Don’t forget to include deadlines and the person/people responsible here as well.

For a really powerful way to run a meeting, hook up to a big screen so the whole group can see the minutes map. This is a fantastic way of providing a live overview, as well as ensuring you have consensus from everyone involved on the points you’ve captured.

3. Know what comes next

How many meetings have you had where you’ve come out feeling inspired, motivated, ready for action…only for nothing to ever actually come of it? This is a trap many of us fall into. We get so carried away by the exciting ideas and the fact that we’re all agreeing with each other, that all we’re doing is patting each other on the back and further explaining why the idea we’ve had is such a good idea. What we fail to realise is that no one actually knows who is supposed to do what next to make this idea happen.

Now if you’ve been using your map and an Action Point branch for every topic, you shouldn’t have this problem. It’s refreshingly simple – if you get to the end of the meeting and don’t have any action points on your map, then you aren’t finished! Using iMindMap means that it is instantly clear where the gaps are.

After the meeting you can send your map out to all of the relevant parties and they will have a visual snapshot of what was covered and what they need to do next.

Source – [TonyBuzan]

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