Meetings are awful. Ten people crammed in a windowless room doing nothing.

Or worse, staring at a Powerpoint presentation with oceans of 9-point text. But there are a few ways to keep yourself — and everyone else — in the groove. Here are two of my favourite techniques for effective meetings or phone calls.

Sketch in Your Notes

Bring a notebook, but block off a clean page for sketching. Connect words and ideas using boxes, arrows, lines, and maybe even small icons. Better yet, sketch it out in two different colours of pen so you can highlight what’s really important. When you review this page at a future date, you’ll have no problem extracting the important bits.

Sketchbook example

Example of how I take notes in meetings. Two colours, some small images, arrows, etc.

Use The Rule of Three

Although some companies required full meeting minutes — if not a transcription — of meeting events, many of us can boil our weekly check-ins and project status meetings down to three items. The main three. The three you need to know. Encouraging everyone to prioritise not only keeps the meetings short, but helps the talking points stay on everyone’s mind, rather than getting lost amid the rest of their email, printouts, and bulleted list.

An example of three takeaways could look like this:

1. Christmas party is coming — everyone think of venues
2. New client onboarding will begin Monday
3. Images are delaying the website launch, concentrate on that.

What else was discussed? Doesn’t really matter, you’ve kept it to three big ones. The other stuff will reappear if they’re important.

Your Meeting Survival Tools

Do you have any favourite meeting strategies? Is the better tactic simply to skip them altogether? Leave your go-to strategies in the comments below.

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About the author: Prescott Perez-Fox

Prescott Perez-Fox is a New York-based graphic designer and brand developer with 17+ years experience in branding, packaging, graphic design, and web design. He runs The Busy Creator.

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