Master Effective Note Taking Methods in a Day

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Whether for seminars, trainings, or debriefings, note-taking remains a complex exercise. Note-making can quickly become challenging during these occasions and many become frustrated about not being able to jot down all the important points discussed during meetings. Even if you are a quick typer or adept at shorthand, there can be a huge gap between the pace of writing and the average speaking speed of many participants. This typically results in scattered and poorly organized notes.

By knowing and using some effective note-taking methods, you can keep track of important information in an organized manner. Taking notes improves your memory, enhances recall, and increases the retention of information. Regardless of your note-taking skills, simply leaving a quick note or ‘breadcrumb’ for yourself can improve your ability to recollect insights.

Taking notes is an evolving process, and different types of note-taking methods continue to trend on social media. For example, the recent surge in bullet journaling – a way to organize your tasks list, notes, all in one place – is not only popular among students but also freelancers and professionals.

Why You Should Take Notes

We are in the age of digital technology. The rapid advancement of innovation has permeated our daily lives and interactions, but its exposure has affected our cognitive abilities too. Our attention spans are shorter than ever due to information overload and over-dependence on tech.

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In 2015, Microsoft published a report “Attention Spans” – an attempt to understand the role of technology on human attention. It presented statistics about our ability to focus and claimed that the average individual now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish! While there is some debate over the exact figures, what we can agree on is that the way we consume, use and share information has changed with technology.

In the same study, Microsoft found that:

  • 50% of the respondents reached for their phone when they had nothing to occupy their minds;
  • 67% consumed news via social media;
  • 59% felt dependent on the technological devices they used daily;
  • 67% used multiple technological devices simultaneously.

According to Statista, over half of the world’s population is online.

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With instant access to computers and online platforms, it’s a lot easier to get distracted. All it takes is one notification or beep to undermine your concentration and cause you to miss something important. Here, note-taking can help to enhance your concentration and listening abilities.

Taking notes is a great way to track or schedule the time you spend on a task, while improving your focus and improving your productivity.

Your notes should highlight key details and points that you can review later without having to relive the entire meeting again. You may consider using a software to capture your meetings and conversations. It will help you save time, cut the review process down to minutes, and improve the amount of information retained.  Additionally, you will be able to effectively act on decisions to drive better business outcomes for your team and clients.

Whether it is your personal or professional life, effective note-taking methods play a critical role in managing and improving your lifestyle. Let’s dig a little deeper into how these fragments of knowledge can change your life and business.

Note-Taking Tips Before You Start

It is a good idea to differentiate the essentials from the superfluous when taking notes. Here are some key points to remember before you start:

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  • Make a plan: You should make an outline or structure to identify the main points. Include titles and subtitles such as introduction, conclusion, example. Your key to taking good notes is to focus on the idea, not the sentence.
  • Use a note-taking system: Follow a note-taking method that is suitable for the specific meeting. These methods keep you focused throughout the meeting and improve your attention span, comprehension and retention. Besides, you learn how to prioritize, note important ideas and discard unnecessary content to organize your notes effectively.
  • Start taking notes before the meeting starts: Your early preparations will help you capture the important details during the meeting. After making an outline/structure, fill in the main details:
  1. Date and time of the meeting;
  2. The purpose;
  3. The attendees;
  4. Milestones/ discussion items from a previous meeting;
  5. Any question(s) that are to be asked.
  • Don’t attempt to write down every word: You may want to capture the discussion word by word, however, with many participants and fast-changing topics, writing down everything is not feasible. To boost your efficiency, write short sentences with keywords as your focus, even using abbreviations and symbols to prepare quick and easy notes.

Ideally, your notes should represent a complete and concise outline of the most significant ideas and points during the meeting. Some teams record their meetings and conversations and get them transcribed to have an accurate record of their discussions. However, not everyone has the time to review each and every page of the transcript. Not only is reviewing the full transcript of a meeting a laborious task, but it also eats up a lot of professional time that could be spent on more valuable tasks.

Best Note-Taking Methods

If you’re working in a team, it’s often not enough to just take notes. What you record should clearly articulate deadlines and challenges, so the team can efficiently act on them. Effective note-taking is not about recording every word spoken; it is a process through which you crystallize the whole conversation into outcomes.

For instance, you can jot down the major items and discussion points as a list instead of faithfully transcribing entire paragraphs. Don’t worry about grammatical mistakes, you can easily revisit the notes and tidy them up before sharing them.

We’ll share with you some of the most well-known note-taking systems. These methods are easy to follow and allow you to take detailed notes while remaining attentive. They also help you to memorize and retain information better.

The Cornell Method:

The Cornell method is a specific system used to capture notes, outline priorities and review information. The format is simple and consists of a header, two columns and a footer.

In the header section, note the date on which we take the note, the conversation topic, reason for meeting as well as the name of attendees.

In the cue column, summarize the main ideas, keywords, and concepts, drawing diagrams if necessary. Make sure that the note is concise so you can read it easily later.

In the notes column, write the most important things to remember. You can also note some questions relating to the notes that you’ve taken.

Lastly, synthesize your meeting notes in a few sentences in the footer section. So when you review these notes later you will be able to quickly know what they refer to without having to read them in their entirety.

The List Method:

This list method is a simple and linear practice which, as its name suggests, takes notes in the form of short phrases or numbered lists. While it does not focus on information processing, it’s a great way to take quick notes because you don’t have to think too much about it.

Every new discussion point, fact or decision is listed on a separate line, numbered as you progress.

This method is a bit more organized than creating paragraphs for every discussion item and captures key details, but sometimes it will be difficult to recall major or minor discussion items from the numbered sequence.

The Outline Method:

With this note-taking skill, the main idea is to prioritize the material that you capture. Key ideas go to the left, sub-ideas are indented below and each idea is organized into a hierarchy.

This helps you understand how the information you’re discussing fits into the structure, and deepens your understanding of the bigger picture.

The outline method highlights main discussion items as well as the link between relevant points. It is easier to review these notes as all the points are recorded in an organized manner. However, this system requires that you capture the conversation accurately, which is impossible when following fast-moving conversations.

The Charting Method:

Charting is a classic note-taking method that uses a table, so you can connect facts and relationships between main topics easily. It uses columns to categorize and organize the information as you write it down, making it easy to access and recall later.

You can create columns to separate key pieces of information with appropriate headings. This method works best for people who attend many meetings and want to keep a running list of important discussion points for each one.

Mind Mapping:

This method creates a network of interconnected ideas. You start by writing the purpose/main discussion item in the center of the sheet, and then draw branches that represent the different connected points from there. You can mention any dates, facts or ideas/concepts that relate to the main topic.

The shared knowledge base of the meeting notes will help teams move a meeting conversation forward smoothly. If you’ve been taking notes, you can easily support the facilitator in keeping the meeting on track. When you’re able to engage and take effective notes, you are in a perfect position to recognize when the discussion has veered off-topic.

How to Take Good Notes at Work

Focus on facts and keywords

While taking notes in the collaborative environments and team meetings, you should focus on:

  • Facts (John is the project lead);
  • Deadlines (This project should be completed by Sep 30);
  • Decisions (The team should be divided into four parts);
  • Action plans (The next meeting will be led by the project manager in the next week);
  • Q&As (Take note of the questions brought up during the meeting).

Organize notes in a hierarchy

If you organize notes in various categories or color-code them, the notes are easier to distinguish and recall. Take some time to review the notes afterwards and ensure that everything captured is accurate.

Pay close attention to what the speaker says and ask questions

To make effective notes, clarify questions (if appropriate) to articulate speaker points accurately. Listen to the speaker and paraphrase what you hear.

Use technology as your virtual assistant

If you have one-on-one meetings, interviews, focus groups or other meetings that require you to be engaged instead of taking notes, the strategies mentioned above can be hard to implement. When you need to be engaged in discussion without distraction, you can use an app to help you capture those notes, meaning once the meeting is over, all you need to do is review.

The next time you are preparing notes, clearly define your goals, think about your environment and then tailor your note-taking plan based on that.

Leveraging Digital Note-Taking Systems

Most people don’t use pen and paper to record conversations, and some are leveraging digital tools to replace the handwritten notes. It’s not just about your preferred taste, it is about becoming efficient by using technology, storing it appropriately for future meetings, and sharing with others to keep them on track.

You might be reluctant to go digital and tired of staring at your laptop or tablet screens. However, there are meeting management tools that can record entire meeting conversations and let you actively participate in meetings.

One such tool is Notiv – an AI-based digital note-taking tool that fulfils the needs of companies with its wide range of features. Along with recording your voice and video conversations, it automatically transcribes them, creates a summary, highlights important phrases, and lets you add notes and assign follow-up tasks to share with your team or clients.

Notiv is an out-of-the-box note-taking solution that helps you participate actively in meetings and drive better business outcomes from your conversations.Want to experience hassle-free digital note-taking! Get started here.

10 Easy Steps to Nailing Your Project Kickoff Meeting

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Starting a new project can sometimes feel a little intimidating. You have to do a thorough job of explaining the project, making sure everyone is on the same page and be ready to answer any questions that may come at you. And believe us, there is an endless list of questions your colleagues are going to ask you.

The project kickoff meeting is one of the most important meetings you’ll have in your project’s life cycle. There are many benefits to having one, some of which include: getting some background on the project, setting expectations, agreeing on how to work together effectively and establishing what needs to be done. If conducted properly, kickoff meetings can create enthusiasm and inspire the team to do their jobs exceptionally.

Steps to Nailing Your Project Kickoff Meeting

A smooth start ensures a straightforward project execution, so it’s important to get it right! Follow these easy steps to make your kickoff meeting run efficiently.

Step 1: Inviting the Right People

We’ve all heard those jokes about how a meeting could have been an email. Meetings sometimes get a bad reputation for being a waste of time but this is usually when people think the meeting doesn’t relate to them or their work. The best way to combat this is to make sure you only invite the key players in the project.

According to a Harvard Business Review report, large meetings with many attendees are less effective than smaller ones with just a few individuals. Make sure you ask yourself, “how will this person contribute to the project?”, to confirm you’re only bringing in the relevant participants.

Step 2: Introductions

Not everyone is going to know one another so it’s vital that proper introductions are made ensuring there is no ambiguity as to who is responsible for what later down the line.

The best way to start would be to have participants introduce themselves and explain what their role in the company is. This will be helpful for anyone unfamiliar with the team, and this allows them to know who to contact for certain questions or deliverables.

Additionally, you may want to do an icebreaker to ease the tension and make the participants feel a little more relaxed by breaking up the awkwardness of an initial meeting. Our pro tip would be to lead by example and start first!
Icebreakers can help you learn useful things about your project collaborators, and who knows, maybe you’ll find you have something in common with someone!

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Step 3: Have An Agenda

We often don’t know what to expect when going into a meeting. It’s good to give participants a structure of what’s going to happen so they can come prepared with a list of questions ready.

Setting a kickoff meeting agenda also holds us accountable so that we stay on track and carry out the meeting productively, without wasting time on conversations that can get us sidetracked. Statistics show that workers define off-topic conversations as their biggest meeting challenge, so get ahead of the problem and make a plan for everything that needs to be accomplished in your kickoff meeting, to avoid wasting time.

Click here to check out one of our other blog posts on creating a meeting agenda that you will actually stick to!

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Step 4: Project Background

When starting something new, it’s crucial to properly understand and be able to explain what came before now.

Background is important as it sets the scene of everything that’s already been done, what’s expected and what the outcome of the project should be.

Everyone is going to have a lot of different questions, so it’s important to give as much context and information as possible. People will still have questions, of course, but try to explain as much as you can and save the questions for later to avoid getting sidetracked.

Taking the time to carefully explain the background of the project allows for easier communication and gets everyone on the same page.

Step 5: Project Plan

This is the part everyone has been waiting for. Your time to shine!

This is when you will need to get into the real details. Go into the meeting with this information already on hand. You will need to outline the project plan, explain the project scope and discuss what milestones you’re aiming to reach.

Start off by talking about the purpose of this project and why it’s important. Discuss the statement of work that’s been agreed on with the client. This will give more information about what’s expected, laying out a timeline of events for everyone involved and painting a clearer picture of what everyone needs to do.

Step 6: Establish Deliverables and Reporting

The more transparent the deliverables, the easier it will be to project the timeline, budget and scope of work involved.

Have an answer ready for the question, “what does success look like for this project?”. Make sure the answer to this is defined and agreed upon with the client before the kickoff meeting, so that you are able to communicate it clearly to everyone involved. Come into the meeting already knowing what the project milestones are and how reporting will be done.

Know which project management software you will be using and who different project participants will report to.

Discuss and agree on a time for status update meetings to ensure that everyone is staying on top of their work and responsibilities.

Step 7: Set Responsibilities

Meeting participants will want to know what exact role they will have in the project. Though people typically know what their job consists of and the role they play in the company, they will be wondering what’s expected of them from this particular project.

Make sure to set out responsibilities clearly, so that there is no room for misunderstanding later down the line.

Now that deliverables have already been discussed, you can start assigning responsibilities for tasks. Be ready to explain who is responsible for which deliverables and who they will be reporting to.

This is the point at which it’s useful to have someone taking meeting minutes, so they can note everything that is discussed, leaving no room for confusion. Alternatively, you could use Notiv’s AI assistant to record and transcribe the meeting. This is precisely why we created Notiv –  to save time and resources during meetings! After the kickoff meeting, you can check the notes that were taken and see what was said, word for word.

Click here to get your free trial now!

Step 8: Questions

You may think you’ve covered everything in depth, but there will always be questions, so make sure you leave enough time to answer them.

Questions are going to be one of the most important parts of your kickoff meeting. This is a crucial step when information will be clarified. Make sure everyone has had the chance to ask their questions and encourage them to voice their concerns on the spot, so that you can ease their worries before the work starts.

Effective communication stems from everyone being on the same page and working towards the same goal.

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Step 9: Recap

It is absolutely crucial that everyone leaves the meeting feeling like they have a good understanding of what was discussed and what is expected from them.

Don’t leave it up to chance; take the time to quickly recap what was discussed at the kickoff meeting.

Take a few minutes to summarize the background, project objectives, key responsibilities, important milestones and any other key details that you spoke about.

Thank everyone for their time and use this opportunity to say something encouraging that will inspire the team and get them excited to start working on the project.

Step 10: After the Meeting

You’ve said everything you needed to say, you’ve answered all the questions. So what’s next?

Statistics show that after one hour, people retain less than half of the information presented. It would be helpful to send out a follow up email after the kickoff meeting, summarizing everything that’s happened so people can refer to it when they need to remind themselves of the bigger picture.

A quick and easy way to do this would be to send them the meeting notes right from Notiv, where they will be able to listen to the recording or read through the notes. You can even search for a specific word or phrase to save yourself time when trying to remember a piece of information!

This email should be a one stop shop for finding any relevant information that can get forgotten over time. Make sure to open the lines of communication between people, so that they can always refer back to this email when they need to find someone’s contact information.

While you’re at it, include documents, platforms and accesses that participants will need to have when they start working on it so that they’re able to find everything in one place.

Finally, offer to answer any questions that might have come up after the kickoff meeting, or 1:1 meetings with you, if needed.

The Bottom Line

While meetings may seem like a big task at first, they’re really not that daunting once you break them up into small steps with the help of our guide.

These are 10 quick and easy steps to impressing your colleagues and nailing your project kickoff meeting to ensure you set the right tone for the rest of your project.

The most important thing is to come prepared and be ready to inspire the rest of your team!

Interested in More of Our Content?

Check out our article on How To Take Better Meeting Notes: 10 Tips Backed By Meeting Experts

How To Create Your Perfect Sales Meeting Agenda In 7 Steps

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It is the sales leader’s responsibility to guide the team on how to market a product to specific client segments by identifying challenges, offering tips and updates, and helping them to improve their sales pitches and interactions.

Regular internal sales meetings help maintain a productive and positive sales culture. They reinforce that sales executives are a team and share a common purpose – to close more deals.

The preparation for a sales meeting begins with agenda development and includes a list of topics for discussion. A sales meeting agenda focuses on the activities that will drive the sales results. It is for internal use only – a personal outline that will help reps stay on track and organized when presenting in front of clients.

Your sales meeting agenda should be both firm and flexible –  allowing you to remain on track while also moving with the conversation’s flow. 

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A sales meeting agenda is vital for successful customer conversations

Doodle’s State of Meetings Report 2019 reviewed the meetings scheduled through its platform during 2018, and interviewed more than 6,500 executives, revealing some interesting meeting stats:

  • 72% mentioned that setting clear objectives is important for successful meetings;
  • 67% admitted that having a clear agenda is important for having a good, productive meeting;
  • 26% stated poorly organized meetings negatively affect their client relationships.

Another study from the Wall Street Journal revealed that employees spent more time in meetings, with the average time spent increasing by 8- 10% every year since 2000.

Every minute the sales reps spend during the meeting is precious, and a sales meeting should not be like a boring group therapy session, otherwise sales reps are only wasting their time and energy. Instead, a sales meeting should prepare them for a perfect pitch presentation that impresses clients.

Best practices to create an effective sales meeting agenda

To make your meetings effective and productive, let’s walk through how to plan a weekly sales meeting agenda.

Identify the purpose

The purpose of the meeting defines its direction, the themes to be addressed, and helps prevent overflows and irrelevant content. This activity will likely save the time of attendees in terms of a clear set of sales meeting ideas, time frames, and objectives.

Internal sales meetings can serve different purposes – share or retrieve information, validate and accept a discussion, discuss issues and find solutions, discuss new products/services, or promote communication and improve cohesion within the same team.

Since the whole team/department is coming together, a well-defined purpose will help avoid tardiness, poor attendance, and distractions.

Plan the sales meeting agenda carefully

Sales executives are often juggling many opportunities and priorities, and have a short attention span. Depending on the nature of their dealings, they have multiple sales meeting agenda topics to brief themselves on.

Spending the time to prepare an agenda will help executives remain focused, and include only the relevant discussion items and a key takeaway for each meeting.

Even the preparation of a singular agenda takes effort and time, but really pays off, helping to avoid common meeting issues and enhance efficiency and communication between participants.

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Create the sales meeting agenda

When it’s time to create a sales meeting agenda, you shouldn’t waste time creating it from scratch. There are many sales meeting agenda templates or internal sample sales meeting agenda docs that you can customize, but save your time and use a meeting management tool to organize and manage your agenda and share it quickly with your peers.

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Tip: Notiv is an intelligent meeting assistant, and you can connect it to your Zoom, Google Meet or Webex account. Notiv will show all your upcoming meetings and let you add agendas and track decisions, follow-up tasks, and action items. You can share your agenda and notes with your team, clients, or anyone else, and invite them to collaborate.

List the agenda items and set the time

Define how many discussion items you will have on the agenda and set a time for each according to its importance. For instance, some agenda items are interlinked, while some are debatable and require additional time. You can move open-ended topics that require discussion to the end, and keep important items at the start of the meeting.

A weekly sales meeting agenda may include many discussion items like pipeline updates, success stories, insights, obstacles, client feedback, competitor updates, with some time reserved for the sales reps to present their sales pitches.

Tip: It’s a good idea to use Notiv to rehearse your sales pitch during the meeting and share the transcript with everyone for their feedback.

Your team will analyze it, and share examples and ideas to make it better. This way, you can prepare well and present the pitch perfectly to your clients.

Structure and share the sales meeting agenda

Agenda structuring will help achieve the purpose of the meeting, answering questions such as “What needs and pain points am I going to solve for my clients.” Your previous interactions with the client or market research will give you an idea of how your company’s products and services are going to resolve a customer issue, or help in expanding their expertise/achieving a competitive advantage.  The reasons could be many, so it is important to identify the right ones.

Some agendas simply list topics as short sentences, such as “continuing our sales planning.” You can clarify the purpose of every item by phrasing the talking points as open-ended questions. Instead of discussing “miscellaneous updates”, how about “what important details do I have to share with the team this week?’ Think strategically about the agenda and ultimate outcome you want to achieve.

Tip: Use Notiv to share meeting points and invite team members to provide updates regarding what’s working and what’s not. You can add your team members by giving them permission to add/edit notes and collaborate without back and forth emails. This way, everyone can share their quotas and KPIs in the meeting agenda, which will be discussed in detail during the meeting. Besides, your team can bring up important questions or ideas that were omitted from the agenda.

Assign responsibilities against every action item

If there are many speakers, clarify every discussion item and who is responsible for each one. Sales representatives are responsible for following up with their prospects and clients, and they will share any updates during the meeting.

The sales meeting is not organized to pressurize the sales reps to achieve targets but to address issues at hand, share experiences, and motivate each other. At the end of the day, you want focused and energetic sales people to bring in more customers. You should assign a space in your weekly sales meeting agenda to have a sincere discussion.

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Tip: Clarify which updates you want to discuss during the meeting. If you use messaging platforms such as Slack for internal communication, you can integrate Notiv with it to automatically post all notes and action items on the designated Slack channel.

Make your meetings smarter

To save time on searching and booking meeting rooms, and configuring and plugging various tools, it’s a good idea to organize a remote meeting. Web conferences are a great alternative to in-office meetings, and they are the only option when the sales team is scattered across the country or different regions.

Taking these considerations into account during meetings will help your sales team focus on what matters. The sales executives’ time is money; the sales meeting agenda must ensure the discussion remains on track, and there is adequate time to discuss relevant issues. 

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You have already discovered how to create a great sales meeting agenda and prepared yourself for how to talk about your company and product. As you are getting ready for your pitch, why not take the help of an intelligent tool- Notiv to have a written record of your sales calls so you can just focus on the conversation. It captures and transcribes all the important moments, so you can focus on the conversation.

Notiv also allows you to add an agenda, record and transcribe the meeting discussion, create action items, and mark important points during the meeting. You can also share the meeting recordings and the scripts with the attendees, through different applications such as Slack, for collaboration and follow-up.

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Furthermore, you can share meeting recordings and scripts with your clients to validate the discussion items.

Want to know more about Notiv’s features? Visit this link!

Notiv + x.ai: scheduled and captured meetings

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The Notiv + x.ai integration enables you to automatically add the Notiv Notetaker to your scheduled meetings

We are pleased to announce that our integration with x.ai allows Notiv users to schedule meetings in one easy click directly from their Notiv account.

How does Notiv work with x.ai?

x.ai is an AI-powered meeting scheduler that syncs with your calendar. After a quick and easy setup process to create some custom preferences suitable to you, you can share a link with your guests and let them pick time slots work into your schedule.

When you use Notiv and x.ai together, any meeting you arrange via your personalized x.ai link will be recorded, transcribed, and captured by Notiv automatically.

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How do I enable x.ai scheduling in my Notiv account?

We have tried to make integrating Notiv with x.ai as easy as possible.

Follow the step-by-step instructions on our Notiv + x.ai integration help center article.

How to Create a Great Meeting Agenda That You Will Stick To

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Wondering how to write a meeting agenda that you will stick to? In this article, we’ve outlined all the steps you need when creating a great agenda.

When planning to meet, one of the best tips for productivity is to create an agenda. Although an agenda is simply a sequence of topics or tasks that need to be discussed, it helps attendees understand why you are meeting and prepare accurately.

Have you ever been in a meeting that’s run overtime, where people have come unprepared or that was just down-right a waste of your time? Most of us have been in at least one meeting like this and you’re probably still thinking of what a waste of time it was. If we’ve all got this stressor, why haven’t we come up with a solution by now?

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The issue might be as simple as introducing a mandatory agenda. An effective agenda can help you solve some of the most frustrating yet common issues with meetings. For example, when you introduce the concept of an agenda for every meeting, you’ll be able to answer the following questions.

  • Is everyone contributing to the meeting?
  • Have the relevant people been included and are there any unnecessary people involved in the meeting?
  • Will you stay on time and end on time?
  • Have you discussed all the points of interest?
  • Have you efficiently followed-up action items and tasks from the last meeting?

We’ve studied hundreds of hours of meetings to help you write an agenda that you’ll stick to.

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Effective meeting agenda: Purpose

When planning your agenda or deciding on the agenda topics, it’s important to keep the team’s needs and reason for meeting in clear view. From this, you can decide on the format of the agenda. While your agenda outline and format might be different, it’s important to ensure that they serve the same purpose; an agenda informs your participants of the meeting, what tasks need to be done and their importance.

How to write an agenda

It is important to create a well-planned and orderly agenda. A disorderly agenda can cause your discussion to go off track, creating unproductive discussion and leading to poor outcomes, discussions or missed insights. Here’s how to write an agenda template you can use for your next meeting.

Set the objective of the meeting as the main item of the agenda

The objective of the meeting is the main component in an agenda and must be set clearly. The said objective, when communicated to the participants, sets their expectations correctly. We recommend using minimal words and simple language to ensure ease of understanding in no uncertain terms.

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Inform the participants of the details of the agenda, ahead of time

The time, place, date and details of other participants, items to be discussed, and other important pre-meeting details must be communicated to the people attending the meeting via the meeting agenda. It’s also important to send our your agenda well in advance so that participants have enough time to read, revert and prepare accordingly. Last-minute communication usually results in key members being unable to attend or prep and effectively renders your meeting ineffective before it’s even started! Making sure that you craft and disseminate your agenda in a timely manner greatly increases your chances of having a successful meeting. 

Ask for input from attendees

Every team member or attendee in your meeting will have concerns, questions or points of discussion that must be addressed in the meetings. Including your team in the pre-meeting process will help keep your attendees engaged and focused. This also helps in the creative development process of the project or work you are discussing. Therefore, the next step in creating a great agenda is to allow your attendees  to add items to the agenda. This enriches the overall purpose of your meeting and studies have shown that this involvement motivates participants to engage as their respective concerns will be addressed.

Select important topics for discussion ahead of less important ones

While it’s crucial to get input from other attendees, it’s equally important for the meeting host to curate the flow of the meeting. Meetings take time and you’re taking time out of your busy schedule to attend. Therefore, you want the most value out of that invested time. That’s why you’ll need to review the agenda again and prioritize important topics that are of immediate concern above the unimportant ones. Always use the Parking Lot method for anything that can be dealt with later. Examples of important topics are ones that affect the entire team, decisions that have a deadline and follow-ups of previously discussed topics.

Set it in a questionnaire form

Asking a question enables people to have an insight into the topic and know exactly what is being asked of them. It’s been shown that people are more receptive to questions than direct orders. Therefore, by listing items as questions on your agenda, you’ll be able to prepare the team for a thorough discussion and will be able to track where each member stands on the project/topic of concern.

Set a time limit for each agenda topic

Meetings are notorious for being long, dragged-out time-wasters. This can be because the discussion veers on a tangent, attendees are unprepared or if there are distractions during the meeting. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to set a time limit per topic. When estimating the time limits, you’ll need to take into consideration the length of the entire meeting, scope of the topic, if there are any issues to be resolved and allocate time for solution discussions. By setting a time limit, people are less likely to veer off-topic, attendees stay focused and you’ve created an effective meeting agenda!

Propose a process for addressing each agenda item

There should be a process that you must adopt to address each item on the agenda list. This increases the effectiveness of the meeting. This includes identifying issues, resolving them, coming up with solutions and more.
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Identify who is responsible for leading each topic

It is not always up to the meeting organiser to lead the discussion on each topic. Usually, other participants are also assigned certain agenda topics for discussion. Sharing this load will help your team stick to the agenda because there is a clear delineation between topics and cultivates a meeting culture. This also ensures that competent voices are heard in the meeting and your team can make informed decisions together!

Conclusion

When an agenda is simple, comprehensive and contains the important details, then it becomes very easy to stick to it. The above steps are sure to help you create an effective agenda for your next team meeting!

How to Run a Meeting Like a Leader: Lessons from Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook

how to run a meeting

Meetings are a crucial part of all our workdays. Whether that’s an official team meeting or an impromptu conversation in the hallway, we have important conversations on a daily basis. A study has averaged that we have more than 20 conversations or meetings per day! That’s a lot of time we’re investing in communication, relationships and collaboration. So, how do we run an effective meeting?

In fact, researchers estimate that companies in the US alone waste at least 37 billion every year in lost productivity due to poorly organized meetings.

Today, we’ll look at how the leaders from some of the largest companies in the world like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon or Facebook run a meeting? If you always wanted to know how to run a meeting like leader, it’s time to discover how.

It pays to study and learn from the meeting styles of successful business leaders because they take back-to-back meetings on a daily basis. So, how do they minimize their inefficiency because if they can’t afford it, neither can we!

And there are several reasons for this inefficiency.

Meetings become inefficient when:

  1. The team is unaligned or unsure as to why you are meeting
  2. Without a strong agenda or a reason for meeting, it’s likely that attendees won’t be able to prepare for the meeting, which leads to useless discussion and a risk of going off tangent. This also means that attendees are unable to prioritize the reason for meeting and tend to view the meeting as an interruption to their day rather than as a useful tool.
  3. You don’t keep to time or to topic
  4. While an agenda can help solve this issue, it’s also crucial that each attendee understands the scope and topic being discussed. This ensures that the team is well-aligned, the discussion is relevant and each topic is given due consideration. Nominating a meeting chair or facilitator can also help your meetings start and end on time, and stay on topic.
  5. Your meetings don’t have any ground rules
  6. All meetings need ground rules. The same way you have a dress code at work, there needs to be a code of etiquette when it comes to meetings. These rules don’t have to be extensive. Start small with a rule to “turn up to every meeting at least 5 minutes before kick-off” or make it a rule to ‘parking lot’ any topic or question that’s not immediately relevant to the discussion at hand. You’ll save yourself lots of distractive comments, discussions and useless whiffle-waffle.
  7. Another great rule is to encourage attendees to “make your coffee at least 10 minutes before the meeting” or you could move your coffee machine to your meeting room!
  8. Coffee?
  9. Coffee is whispered with reverence in most workplaces and everyone has their vice, but a recent study on the effects of caffeine on meetings revealed an interesting gender difference. During periods of stress, women who drank coffee performed better than men in the same situation. While we’re not throwing out the coffee just yet, the difference is said to lie in your instinctive response to caffeine. While women on caffeine generally tend to take on a collaborative, teamwork style, which is ideal for the meeting space, whereas men generally react in a practical or active style.
  10. The point of a meeting is not to talk
  11. Perhaps this is where the collaborative, teamwork approach makes the most sense. It’s how we define the point of a meeting. The point of a meeting is to listen and collaborate. The whole reason you’re together in a room is to benefit from one another’s viewpoints and perspectives to drive better outcomes for your team and clients.
  12. It’s about the tasks not the time
  13. If your meeting is set for 60 minutes, you don’t have to discuss for 60 minutes. This is where a strong agenda comes in handy. Focus on the tasks and points at hand rather than the time. Fortune reported that Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg keeps a list of discussion points and action items handy in her meetings so that once she’s done with her points, she can quickly move on to the next meeting and topics at hand!
  14. Disruptions and unengaged team
  15. With a huge multi-national company like Amazon, it’s easy for an unsupervised meeting to grow to exponential hands. You shouldn’t have to rent a convention center just to meet. Amazon’s funky 2-pizza rule is: every meeting should be sufficiently catered by 2 pepperoni pizzas. Only invite the relevant people to your meetings because this will help avoid repeat opinions, it prioritizes the time people dedicate to the meeting, allows for quicker decisions and it’s easier to communicate!

It’s not just how we meet, it’s what comes after that creates inefficiency. A good meeting can save dozens of follow-up emails, prevent major miscommunication, and even give birth to moments of creative magic.

Top workflow management tools from leading entrepreneurs

how to run a meeting

Talk less. Listen more

This is actually 2 of Satya Nadella’s, Microsoft CEO, 3-step meeting method. Apart from being able to listen better when you talk less, this also creates a nurturing atmosphere that encourages collaboration when you run a meeting.

There are several ways to ensure you are listening:

  • Ask specific questions;
  • Be concise and to-the-point;
  • Approach each problem as a team;
  • Give everyone time to share;
  • Keep to the time.

The worst meeting I’ve ever attended was on where a senior member of the team talked for 20 extra minutes at the end of the meeting on a tangential point. The whole team was equally inattentive and just done listening, but nobody had the courage to speak up.

Be decisive

This doesn’t mean that you call for a mutiny, overthrow the facilitator and reclaim the meeting room as new land. Being decisive means that you know when to step into the conversation and if you run a meeting, how to keep things moving forward. While it is important to listen more, at the end of the day, you need to assign tasks, keep the conversation on point and ensure follow through for better outcomes.

Know your game

You’re in the meeting for a reason and hopefully, it’s not a ‘Dinner for Schmucks’ situation. So, if you’re presenting, get passionate about your idea! No one else will champion your views, topics or expertise, so if you want things moving in a certain way, fight for them!

Of course we all want respectful workplaces, but what we mean here is don’t compromise on things you believe in. It’s also not enough to know what’s important, but you have to be able to articulate why it’s important and then convince the rest of your team.

The way Google does this is with data. Every suggestion or point is backed up by numbers so they can validate and quantify everything they do and it’s been working well for them!

When you run a meeting, you’re making meaning.

This means that before you run a meeting the right priorities are defined.

“We’re doing this because we have a passion about it…because we really care about the higher educational process. Not because we want to make a buck.” Steve Jobs

This also means that you don’t need to wait for a meeting to make a decision. Have a mico-meeting to avoid senior decision makers becoming a blocker for the rest of the team.

But it’s not always the ongoing meeting that derives value, how you end your meetings also matter.

At Notiv, we understand how intimidating it can be to visualize the long road ahead of us. That’s why we end our meetings with some inspiration. It’s important to us to take some time to look back at what we’ve accomplished and to use that as motivation for the road ahead. Apple celebrated their 90th day of business, when was the last time you celebrated how far you’ve come?

No slides

While Google backs their decisions up with data, Amazon relies on the power of storytelling instead. While on one-hand this can prompt attendees to craft detailed meeting memos, it can also leave your team directionless before the meeting. Amazon prizes memos because they give the organizers a chance to better communicate the concepts to be discussed. Attendees can also read, collaborate and improve the work ahead of time, creating team alignment and focus.

Review

We’ve all rocked up to that important meeting where, despite your best intentions, you’re simply not well-prepared. Perhaps you just got off a flight, had a big night out or watched the final season of Game of Thrones.

As a meeting organizer, it’s inevitable to have attendees who simply aren’t ready. But instead of punishing these members, or risk them ‘faking it till they make it’, Amazon instead has instated a mandatory review of the meeting memo at the start of the meeting.

This method not only assures the undivided attention of the team, it helps discussion or team leads prepare a final time. It’s also great team practice because it values and places importance on the time, expertise and effort required to put those memos or agendas together.

Review is also important after a meeting. What was said, what was discussed and what needs to be followed-up on immediately?

Assigning a note-taker can help with the review process but this is often a major source of inefficiency. With human note-takers, your team is subjecting itself to the biases and limitations of that one person. If they missed a crucial point, the whole team collectively shares in that loss. If everyone is taking their own notes, the team risks misalignment, miscommunication and lots of time spent after the meeting decoding notes and chasing up information.

Why take the L?

By using an AI meeting assistant, you remove that dependency and inefficiency relating to human jobs.

We all have many jobs to be done in our lives:

  • Some are little like making coffee in the morning;
  • Some are big like creating a human being;
  • Some surface unpredictably like a spare outfit at work because you got drenched in the morning;
  • Some regularly like packing healthy school lunches for your kids.

However, the menial post-meeting tasks shouldn’t be something we have to contend with anymore. There are tools, like Notiv, available for the discerning professional. Tasks like taking detailed notes while engaging in the conversation, or organizing and disseminating meeting minutes can take hours, when they should only take minutes.

Tools like Notiv help users:

  • Capture the full conversation, context and rich detail;
  • Transcribe the conversation for clarity;
  • Analyze the meeting to highlight important moments;
  • Segment the data for a quick review of the information;
  • And support collaboration and dissemination of the meeting notes!

If you want to Meet Better, it’s not hard to implement some of these life hacks into your workflow. Head over to our recent article to learn more about the benefits of having AI as your meeting assistant.

How to Excel at Work: Tools and Tips to Becoming Irreplaceable

excel at work

Joining any workplace is a scary and alien experience. Will my boss like me? Will I hate my job? Will I excel at work? Can I handle the pressure? There can be so many things to worry about. Knowing this, it’s no wonder people jump from job to job. In fact, it is said people change jobs at least 12 times in their career.

Interestingly, a millennial survey by Deloitte states millennials are the most likely to switch jobs frequently. But, this doesn’t come voluntarily. Several studies show people are forced to look for new jobs due to issues such as poor performance or misalignment between values. With this in mind it got us wondering, how do you become irreplaceable and excel at work?

What do bosses think?

“People who are genuinely enjoying their job and who are inspired to continue to be better every day. These are the people who actively help others grow, they share their learnings (including their mistakes), and they are incredibly dependable. These people, while they use the word “we” rather than “I”, they themselves still stand out as individuals.” – Becci Reid, Founder at Notiv.

Putting it into practice

Be a half-full kinda person

Every office has one. That one employee who is constantly happy and positive (even if they’re crying on the inside). Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t deny that their positivity is contagious. That’s what every company needs. Entrepreneurship is difficult because of its up and down nature. In times of stress, that positive attitude can help motivate and inspire teams to persevere. Leaders also tend to trust these types of people with tasks because they appear confident in their abilities. These are the individuals that truly excel at work.

But how do you do this? It’s not as easy as flipping a switch. Luckily, there are some practices that you can adopt to ‘fake it till you make it’. These include avoiding the blame game, providing support to others, taking an interest in your colleagues and being grateful for and respecting your team. After all, you’re all there for a reason.

Commit yourself

Deadlines can be tough, especially when it comes to choosing between quitting time and overtime. However, the willingness to go above and beyond shows your boss that you’re passionate about what you’re doing. Do the due diligence so that you too can rest easy, knowing that you’ve done your best. Dedicate yourself to high standards, but don’t compare yourself to others. This also involves knowing what you can and cannot do. It can be easy to say “yes” to everything, but over committing yourself is the best way to fall short.

“There’s always gonna be another mountain, you’re always gonna wanna make it move”

While the process is important, in the end, we all want results. Chase those results by bringing new ideas to the table. Everyone experiences road blocks, even if it’s just writer’s block. But before you admit defeat or run to your boss, look at what you can do to unblock yourself. Come up with potential solutions and then see if your boss can help you achieve them.‍

Diversify

While you don’t want to over commit yourself or overstep boundaries, it’s always a good idea to try to be involved in a variety of things at work. Instead, try offering your colleagues help or expertise. It will not only help you build strong relationships outside of your immediate team, but it’ll give you exposure. These opportunities to network are especially crucial if you work in a large organization.

Most of us are skilled, but it’s only the ones who showcase their skills who get noticed. Just don’t volunteer for something that you can’t do, and if you suddenly realize that you can’t handle your tasks, bow out early.

Sharing is caring, but also learning

As the workforce changes, employers also look for different things in their employees. Lifelong learning is important for your career and mental health. The good thing is that everyone has something to learn and something to impart. That’s the true mark of teamwork. Take the time to talk to your colleagues, bosses and even trainees. You never know what experiences and knowledge someone might have until you start to share.

Aim to make other lives easier

Let’s go back to the basics. Why would your employer keep you around? Probably because you make their lives better, or easier. Surveys have shown that top performers understand their leadership’s shifting priorities and adapt to help drive the end goals. Of course, this means that employers will need to communicate these end goals, but building trust and credibility is a good place for an employee to start. While you should always stand up for your rights, it’s important to nix bad habits like, shifting blame, becoming overly emotional, being apathetic or embracing the solitary lone-wolf life.

No matter what your role is, everyone can strive to excel at work and become irreplaceable to their company, colleagues and their clients. Be invaluable to anyone who spends time with you, because you’re giving up just as much of your time. An invaluable boss can make a world of difference in an employee’s work life and considering that we spend most of our time at work, you could even change lives.‍

Need extra resources to help you excel at work? Check out these hacks to be more productive at your workplace!

How to Excel at Work

If you need some tools to help you be more effective, check out Notiv!

Notiv helps you capture every insight and communicate outcomes clearly. With one click, record, revisit and share your meetings. By recording your meetings and transcribing them to highlight important moments, you can stay engaged in your meeting conversations and drive better outcomes for your clients.

To learn more about our product, download the app now for free on iOS or Android.

Employee Retention for Startups: Ultimate Guide to Retaining an Amazing Team

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Workers in the United States have a strong tendency to move around quickly, and at a large cost to employers. In 2016, 47% of workers admitted to replacing more than 20% of their employees throughout one calendar year and reports determined millennial turnover cost companies $30.5 billion collectively each year. Low employee retention rates in the United States are not only costly to businesses but also heavily influence the way a company operates and it is perceived by the public long term.

guide to retaining

Source: Stats and Remedies For Employee Turnover In The Middle East

Why Does Employee Retention Matter?

Cost efficiency

Employee retention is notably important to employers conceivably due to its ability to cut costs. The numbers speak for themselves and essentially it will cost an employer twice the amount of one employee’s salary to hire and train a replacement. In addition, the cost of hiring isn’t limited to the salary, but it also drains human resources to headhunt, interview, onboard, and finally train an employee for a new position.

Consistency

As it is more expensive to hire, onboard and train a new employee, it causes consistency within a company to falter. New hires usually entail months of training within their new roles, getting accustomed to company culture and becoming comfortable in their new positions. These employees could also eventually end up training newer hires which will further impact how the company operates.

While it takes time to learn the culture of a new company, it is another thing entirely to promote the culture accurately. Like a game of telephone, as the process of passing something on gets longer, the more it changes. So, retaining employees for as long as possible is the safest way to ensure a company’s brand is intact and being represented properly.

Employee retantion

How do You Create Employee Retention?

Hiring

The easiest way to prevent employees from wanting to leave a company is to improve the process at the source: who companies hire and how. Focusing on applicants who are excited about the prospective job and seem genuinely interested in being a part of the company is an important objective when conducting interviews because those applicants are the ones who are more likely to want to stay with the business long-term.

But how they are hired is also essential. A Gallup study found only 12% of employees found their company onboarding process good. The lack of a good onboarding process has been reported to result in feelings of disengagement within 3 months, which prevents the formation of an emotional bond between the employee and the company — this connection can make or break retention. A positive hiring environment is beneficial to all parties involved; the employer knows they will have a committed employee and the employee will be enthusiastic about their work environment.

Company Culture

New hires want to know they will be happy in their workplace and to know the organization stands for the same ideals they do. Studies have shown millennials are 25 times more likely to stay long-term at a workplace they believe in, which in turn minimizes company turnover costs. For example, 71% of millennials who strongly believe they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different from its competitors say they plan to be with their company for at least one year. This suggests a positive company culture in which employees find valuable aids employee retention for at least the first year.

Training and Advancement

In any industry, people want the opportunity for advancement within their career. The intelligent manager will invest time in supporting their employees to realize their short-term and long-term goals. For example, creating the opportunity to attend workshops, up-skilling courses or relevant industry events. Failure could be perceived as a lack of care for their employees, which can dampen morale.

Communication

A communicative and collaborative process, structured to inform, empower and recognize employees and their work contributions are crucial. Communication that is top-down, bottom-up and also lateral engages the community and provides management with a shared insight into the ‘health’ of the business.

In combination, these elements can provide businesses with a retention strategy built from a genuine commitment to serving your customers and employees.

amazing team

It’s your turn

It’s pretty clear many business owners have trouble retaining their employees. Having more insight into how to empower your employees and keep them will allow you to reach lengths in your business you never thought were possible. However, unless you actually adopt these tips mentioned above, you will fall into the 47% of business owners who need to replace their employees in their first year.