I have a lot of meetings each week. From lunches to coffee meetings to calls, my goal is to have about 15 to 20 meetings per week to connect with people and move my organizations forward. Over the years of doing this, I have created a specific way of being a part of a meeting that makes sure I get the most out of it.
No electronics during the meeting
No electronics in a meeting at all. I know, some people like to take notes on the laptop because they type faster than they write. I type faster than I write too. But, I never use a device during a meeting for a few reasons:
- It has been scientifically proven that a person taking handwritten notes remembers more than a person typing notes. The reason for this is that when you are handwriting notes, you are forced to understand what was said and rephrase it in a simpler way to save time when writing it down. In other words, you process what you heard. When typing notes a person is prone to just typing what they hear without actually making an effort to think about it.1
- Even if you turn off alerts (which almost no one does), you are still likely to get distracted. Sure, sometimes meetings can get boring. But, I have found that often boredom leads to better thinking and even breakthroughs. Being forced to fully focus in a meeting because you don’t have the option of a screen distraction will lead to better thinking and better results.
Phone placement & settings
When I can, I place my phone on the table, on vibrate, face down. This helps in a few ways. First, it makes sure that I don’t have a phone in my pocket vibrating and distracting me, it’s easier to silence on the table. Second, it lets the person I’m meeting with know that I’m completely focused on them and will not be looking at my phone during our meeting. I also like to set a timer on my phone to go off 5-minutes before the meeting is set to end. This helps me focus on the person in front of me without worrying about what time it is. It also means I won’t have to do that “I’m not looking at my watch” while looking at my watch move.
Meeting times and timing
Most people default to a 1-hour meeting. In fact, I have noticed that when I’m in a meeting and not looking at my watch, you can almost tell exactly when 1 hour has passed as that tends to be the exact moment when the conversation lulls. But, there is no rule that meetings must be 1 hour. So, I prefer to set in-person meetings for 45 minutes and calls for 30 minutes by default. Also, the time of day a meeting is scheduled is critical. I know I’m sharpest early in the day, so if I need to have a meeting that will require a lot of thought or creativity, I plan it first. The end of the day is great for starting to wind down and prepare for tomorrow, so if I have a meeting to catch up and chat with someone, that is a good end of the day meeting.
- For information about how handwritten notes are better than typing, see https://www.npr.org/2016/04/17/474525392/attention-students-put-your-laptops-away and https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-learning-secret-don-t-take-notes-with-a-laptop/