A business meeting where everyone attending has a MacBook.

Simple steps to increase meeting productivity

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Make 2023 the year you work smarter, not harder. Here are some top workplace hacks to increase meeting productivity.

Level up your note taking with a tech-savvy tablet

Combine the convenience of note taking on paper with a tech-savvy tablet such as the reMarkable 2. Ideal for those who prefer to write on paper, the tablet converts handwritten jottings into text, turning dishevelled pieces of paper into beautifully presented notes. It also gives you the choice of easily sourcing your files on a range of different platforms for more convenient access.

“It gives you a separate place for your notes during meetings, helping you focus and actively engage in discussion, while still being able to write down your thoughts,” says Henrik Gustav Faller, VP communications at reMarkable.

“In online meetings, the next distraction is only a tab away. The more tabs that you have open, the greater the temptation becomes. Let the laptop do its job as a conferencing tool and free up your brain for more focused online meetings and better notes.

Try the ‘Delete a Day’ challenge

Cut down wasted meeting time with the help of the ‘Delete a Day’ challenge, suggests Graham Allcott, founder of ink Productive and co-author of How to Fix Meetings.

“When working alongside your team, ask the question: Wouldn’t it be good to find an extra day in our working week to do the ‘real’ work? Next, start a meetings amnesty discussion, with questions such as: Which meetings could we just cut? Which meetings could just be an email? Which meetings that are set to be two hours long could actually be an hour? If there’s an hour-long meeting with seven people scheduled to attend, deleting it saves your team seven hours. That’s a work day!”

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A manager shares a joke with his colleague during a productivity meeting.

Be alert to the HiPPO Effect

The HiPPO effect is a result of the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. No one wants to openly disagree with the boss or appear to be out of step, yet this often leads to group-think and squashes healthy dissent or disagreement. Graham suggests getting around this by asking people to vote first and discuss second, or share their thoughts in groups before feeding back to everyone. “If you realise one day that you’re the HiPPO in the room, give others the floor and let them speak before you.”

Make use of breakout rooms

Group meetings are convenient for sharing important information with many people, although smaller group settings shouldn’t be overlooked. Zoom’s ‘Breakout rooms’ tool is ideal for encouraging collaboration, especially in large meetings. The host can create up to 50 different sessions and assign participants to a specific group, or randomly divide them. The host can also join each of the breakout rooms to monitor progress. Once the breakout rooms end, all participants can reconvene to discuss important points in the main meeting room.

Be sure to open and close your meeting well

To encourage others to pay attention and appreciate the diversity of thinkers within the meeting, Graham recommends Nancy Kline’s ‘Opening Rounds’ technique, which gives everyone the chance to share their thoughts before the meeting; while ‘Closing Rounds’ allows topics to be brought to a satisfying conclusion.

Meanwhile, Graham is an advocate of asking people their names, how they’re feeling and one thing that’s going well before a meeting starts, encouraging participants to feel valued as equal thinkers. This ensures meetings begin positively, encouraging an optimistic mindset. “Since the stuff we remember most clearly is often the things that come at the very beginning or very end, these two simple rituals leave a powerful impression.”

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Overshot of a hand on a notebook with a checklist for a meeting.

Words by Emma Gibbins

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