Despite being often poorly planned, and lacking an outcome — meetings do have their upsides. A good meeting might kick-start a new partnership or venture, and when a project’s off the rails, a coming together of parties can set a new course. We’ll look at some tips, apps and programs to help make sure the next meeting you have gets the job done.
Get a room
Stating the obvious, to have a meeting, everyone needs to be in a room together, real or virtual. But finding the right time for all parties isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ll need a scheduling tool, and if the meeting’s online, an app to facilitate.
Outlook is the gold standard for booking office space, though complications can arise when presented with multiple options. Doodle simplifies the process, making it easy for collaborators to book a meeting space. it’s also democratic, allowing parties to vote for the best meeting time, leveraging an availability calendar similar to hotel booking functionality and allowing meeting attendees to select the time that best suits them from the suggested times set by the meeting coordinator. There’s a free base version, but only the premium version works with all of the most common calendars: Google Calendar, Outlook and iCal. Timebridge is a web app compatible with the common calendars, it’s also free. It can even send you an SMS reminder when a meeting’s about to begin.
To host a virtual meeting Skype is the go-to, only you can’t videoconference with more than one person. For a scheduler and meeting room in one, Join.me is a popular choice. There’s a free version, but if you need more than ten people in a meeting, you’ll want a paid account. You can also share screens and transfer hosting duties during activities. For organisations on the Google Apps platform, Hangouts is a multi-party solution, with hats.
Slack offers the ability to better organise meetings, it’s integrated with services like Vodafone partner Dropbox and Google Docs so file-sharing is painless. It also works like a browser if you need to play YouTube videos without leaving a chatroom. Which is always, right?
Eyes on the prize
Before your meeting begins, you should have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. When the gang’s together, you’ll need to make sure you stay on track. Go in with a plan, then you can use a tool like Trello to keep your meeting organised. It works as an online pin-board for task management. Each project gets a board and there are interactive checklists and to-do lists with images. Once you’ve decided on a course of action, it’s important everyone follows through.
Now we’re talking
Keep everyone on the same page, able to access all the information needed. Above its note taking functionality, Evernote can be used to share images and documents or even to record conversations for later reference. For something simple and easily accessible, Google Drive is free and works well if everyone needs to work on the same document. Developed for the sole purpose of taking meeting minutes, Minutes.io costs nothing and can work in online or offline mode.
Four tips for your next meeting:
- Only meet if you have to
Don’t waste a meeting when an email will do. Your time is worth more than that.
- Know what you want
Set meeting goals and let everyone involved know what they are.
- Assign tasks
Make sure everybody leaves knowing what’s expected of them.
- Follow up
Ensure they complete their tasks and feedback results, so you’ll be ready for the next meeting.
4 Minute Read