KEEP your meetings SMART with Google

Paul Brittain
April 19, 2017
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Strategic approach to business tasks.

I’ve been to many meetings over a time spanning four decades and at various stages of the management tree - supervisory, managerial, strategic.  I was encouraged, and expected, to make copious notes of all the decisions made.  At most of these, official minutes or detailed notes would be taken and circulated; everyone delegated to do a specific task within a certain time frame and with precisely rigid outcomes.

….. But time moves on.  Do you want some advice on how I do this now?

I go to a fair number of meetings, most of them informal gatherings.  Coffee Means Business meetings are a good starting point for any new entrepreneur to go to - to mingle among a friendly crowd, enabling you to practise vocalising your business pitch in 3 minutes and gaining insight from peers.

I have never had a Coffee Means Business meeting that didn’t put me in a positive mood.

However, I don’t tend to take notes at these meetings - perhaps the odd business card here or there.  The conversation tends to be light hearted, informative and social.

But move this forward to a structured meeting at a later date then my attitude changes.

Time is precious - I think we can all agree.  Both the client and myself have things we could be doing if we hadn’t taken time out to meet up or talk to each other on a video conference.  My role is to give as much advice as I can in as precise a way possible, aiming for achievable results.  

The outcome of the meeting should have some identifiable goals which, between us, we delegate as tasks and both pledge to complete in a timely fashion.

…. But how can we do this that fits in with our modern lifestyle.

Let me take you through our 3 part strategy.

1)  For any idea, plan or task, use the S.M.A.R.T mnemonic.

Make the task:

  • S - specific, significant, stretching
  • M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
  • A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
  • R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
  • T - time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

As you discuss an idea, concentrate on it until you have fully worked out if it is right for the business; can be achieved - and discussed how it could be put into action, and who is going to do the task.

2)  Download Google Keep

And have it ready on your mobile phone as an App, or on your work laptop or tablet

It is a system of keeping notes in checklist form that updates in real time across all devices that can be shared between all parties, available at any time.

Once it is downloaded and available and you are familiar with some of its basic uses then you can use it to record your SMART goals.

How you use these Google Keep checklists is going to be up to personal preference and would easily fill an hour’s seminar so I won’t dwell on it here.

My preferred method is to have one note per client.  The title of the note becomes the business name.

Then it is a case of tapping out the task to include:

  • Initials for who is responsible for it - in my case PB
  • The task itself - Do this, Do that, using action verbs
  • Add a date by which it should be completed

An example whose fictitious initials are ZZ

Example Google Keep bullets.PNG

There are many options in the toolbar to add colour and make this tool more engaging.

Don’t create a mountain of tasks that are unachievable in a short space of time.  This will be deflating, demoralising and be counter productive.  A maximum of 10 new tasks per meeting should be adequate.

There is even an option of setting your calendar up with a reminder which will then jog your memory at a later stage.

When a task is actioned then the box is ticked and the task is lined out and moves to the bottom as complete.  This is done on both your Keep notes as it works in real time.

From the moment the checklist is complete and you walk away from the meeting I can guarantee you will not want to be the one who doesn’t complete the tasks.  There is something hardwired into our psyche that doesn’t want to be the one to let the side down.

Take Away moment

Google Keep is my modern equivalent of getting rid of that scrap of paper, that shopping list, an email sent later on endeavouring to remember what was decided and who was tasked, and the fair risk of slippage or at worse, nothing being done properly in the long term.

3) Monitor and Revise the list regularly.  Continue the strategy away from the meeting with Google Keep to plan for the next meeting

The mobile in your pocket or tablet on your table will be a constant reminder that tasks need to be achieved and work needs to be done.  You can instantly see how much progress has been made and the list should reduce in size.

Using a checklist system isn’t always about ticking off tasks.  Sometimes one task leads to another unrelated task which you can add as a reminder and perhaps a germ of a new idea may reveal itself to be floated for a future meeting.

Take Away moment

It may take a while to get to grips with this style of working but I can guarantee, if you use this simple 3 stage technique, your progress on the actions and tasks you need to achieve between a client and an advisor will be faster and more engaging than regular email or phone call progress.