Monday, 13 February 2012

5 Top Tips for Effective Meetings

To perform effectively you are often required to be involved in meetings. Love them or hate them, they are an essential way of working for many people.

If meetings are run well, they can be an extremely effective way of exchanging information, reaching informed decisions and assigning/progressing specific actions to achieve a desired outcome.

If meetings are run badly, they can be a total turn off for the people involved, a serious waste of people's time, a drain on an organisation's resources and a significant contributor to under achievement and low morale.

Here are my 5 top tips on how to have effective meetings

1. The meeting should have a clearly defined purpose
Record the purpose of the meeting in one or two sentences. Also, have the meeting purpose statement to hand to help the attendees stay focused and committed to the meeting’s objective. I often put the meeting purpose as the first branch in my meeting management map. If there are specific sub-purposes for a meeting then I add these as appropriate.

The meeting’s agenda should clearly reflect the purpose of the meeting. Set a duration for significant agenda items to ensure there is adequate time for discussion and decision making but also to curb procrastination and waffle.

2. The right people are present, prepared and contribute
It’s difficult to reach a decision if the decision makers are not present. So make sure that the people that need to contribute at the meeting are invited and available. It can be better to postpone the meeting rather than holding a meeting without an essential attendee being available.

A meeting is not the place for people to do their pre-meeting work. This is a complete waste of the other attendees’ time. Attendees should arrive at the meeting prepared. Provide the attendees with a MindGenius map of the agenda in which the pre-work for each agenda item is included.

Ensure all meeting attendees contribute. Don’t let specific individuals unnecessarily dominate a discussion. Ask those not participating what their thoughts are on the matter. They might have something of value to bring to the discussion.

3. Outcomes are recorded and agreed as the meeting progresses.
Don’t rely on people’s memories. Record what happens as it happens. Don’t let valuable ideas, actions and points disappear into the ether. As the meeting progresses and discussions take place, record the key points of the discussion. Record actions that have been completed. If decisions are made and new actions are assigned, record them as they happen. This is easy to do with MindGenius and provides all of the attendees with a clear overview of what has happened.

4. The meeting is properly closed
Ensure that enough time has been set aside in the agenda to properly close the meeting and gain consensus on what needs to be done next.

Walk the attendees through the MindGenius map of what happened during the meeting and get agreement that the map is an accurate reflection of what took place and the actions assigned. Incorporate any additional points or actions arising. This map now constitutes the minutes of the meeting.

Before ending the meeting agree what the agenda should be for the next meeting based on the outcomes of the current meeting and the next set of activities required to reach the meeting’s intended goal.

The map now becomes a live working document and reference point to track developments over the course of a project. We do this internally at MindGenius, and it is especially helpful on larger projects and allows us to keep on track of where we are and where we need to be.

The attendees will leave the meeting in agreement with the meeting minutes, know what actions they need to perform and what the agenda is for the next meeting.

5. Think of ways to improve your meeting process
It’s easy to become stuck in a rut with the way meetings are managed in an organisation. Think of ways to improve your meetings. Does the meeting need to be held face to face? Could it be a virtual meeting, which can save organisations time and money? There are many online meeting options’ now including Webex, GoToMeeting and Netviewer and MindGenius is regularly used in these environments in exactly the same way as it is in “live” meetings, as a mechanism to bring focus and control and keep the meeting on track. Alternatively, could new facilitation techniques be applied? Just a slightly different approach could bring a freshness to your meetings and help you to get more out of them.

I would also suggest that you revisit these tips on a regular basis. It’s surprising how quickly you can revert to bad meeting management practices. It was worthwhile me just writing about them. I have a few things to work on.

So good luck with your meetings and I hope that they prove to be an effective way of working for you. As ever, if you have any queries then Ask Gordon. If you have any tips you wish to share on how to have effective meetings, we would love to hear from you.

Client Development Update

As you would have noticed if you are a regular subscriber to this Newsletter, the last edition carried an announcement of my appointment.

I thought I would use this article to remind all customers of the value that they can gain from the variety of services under the "Client Development"  umbrella.

One of our key objectives is to offer a range of services that support you, either as someone new to MindGenius, or as an existing MindGenius user, in:
a) getting the best out of MindGenius as a product;
b) understanding the underpinning model and approach “beyond the software”, that best helps you use MindGenius in a range of day-to-day planning, task management, project management, etc, scenarios;
c) ensuring that MindGenius works for you in your day-to-day work, helping you to achieve more in less time and providing clarity and focus on many aspects of plans, tasks, strategy, projects, brainstorming sessions, meetings……and a whole lot more.

If you currently use MindGenius, or you are just even looking at MindGenius for the first time, I would ask you to take a minute and ask yourself the following questions…

1. Do I really understand all of the MindGenius functions and features?
2. Is there a gap in my (or my team’s) knowledge of, or use of MindGenius?
3. Do I use MindGenius to the best advantage at meetings, planning sessions, brainstorming sessions, problem-solving sessions, or for project planning and management?
4. Does my team (or in fact my organisation) take advantage of, or even fully appreciate, the power of MindGenius?
5. Am I able to promote the advantages of MindGenius to a wider audience so that they can take advantage of its uses and applications?
6. Have I (or my colleagues / team) taken advantage of any of the specialised and/or tailored training or workshop-based events run by MindGenius?

Our range of formal training and tailored services are gauged to addressing some of the potential weaknesses highlighted by answering these types of questions.

From 2-hour online sessions with a MindGenius expert for individuals and groups of people, through to tailored onsite training sessions or workshops, right through to workshop-style events with teams to augment multi-licence implementations – there is something for everyone.

If you think we can help you make the most of MindGenius at whatever level, I invite you to get in touch with me personally, I will do my best to understand what it is you are trying to achieve and then offer you the best advice I can, as well as the best solution to fit your requirements – just give me a call or drop me a quick email, I’d love to hear from you.

Contact Jamie on +44(0) 1355 247 766 or email him at

MindGenius Takes on Africa with the help of Tech Africa

MindGenius, the leading business-mapping software developer has partnered exclusively with Tech Africa, a specialized software distributer, to supply MindGenius products and services to the African marketplace.

MindGenius mind mapping software allows organisations to effectively capture, manage and work with information within their organisation and specifically delivers business value in activities such as project planning, brainstorming, strategic planning, task management and information mapping.

Tech Africa specialises in working with local resellers in creating market awareness for new technologies and equipping those resellers with the necessary skills, support and infrastructure to introduce and promote such technologies into their customers. Tech Africa has a broad range of specialties from transacting in local currency, through providing training and sales expertise on its focus product lines.

Tech Africa supplies resellers across the whole of the African continent.

Dustin Newport, Commercial Director explains how important he thinks the relationship with Tech Africa is; “MindGenius and the business mind mapping technique can bring great advantages to organisations and we are pleased to be partnering with Tech Africa to offer local support to our customer base in the region. Our customers expect to be able to conduct business in local currency and with their local chosen reseller to provide anything from initial product demonstration right through to ongoing training and support. Tech Africa have a proven track record of introducing exciting new products into the region. We are excited about the benefits that this new partnership will deliver to our customers in the region.”

Jeremy Azmanov, Director, Tech Africa Distribution, said:

“We are delighted that MindGenius is our new flag ship mind mapping and project management software solution. We believe it will add tremendous value in our local markets with its powerful features, easy and intuitive user interface and ‘best in class’ Project Management functionality making MindGenius a compelling solution for our market.”

For more information visit the Tech Africa site at