The following describes how you run a highly productive status meeting using Instant Agenda. Check out Part 1 for the thinking behind this execution.

Summary

 

Scheduling

Use our chrome extension or Microsoft Outlook add-in to create and link your agendas to your calendar invites.

Preparation

Use the agenda builder and topic comments to ensure you are prepared to meet.

Open the Meeting

Add last-minute topics, review agenda, vote to prioritize.

Manage Topic Discussion

Use a timer with frequent check-ins. Vote to extend time as long as the group believes goals / action can be achieved. Use the off-topic flag to stay focused. Call a vote to make and record decisions. Take notes visually and collaboratively.

Wrap up

Review your actions and decisions.

Send a Summary & Follow up

Send a concise, detailed summary to participants and any stakeholders who want to review the outcomes of the meeting.

 

Scheduling

Scheduling the meeting (and getting everyone the agenda) is done easily using Instant Agenda. If you use Google Calendar or Outlook 365 (Web), download our Chrome extension to add Instant Agenda meetings directly to your recurring calendar events. If you use Microsoft Outlook desktop client, install our add-in to accomplish the same goal.

From your calendar, you can add an Instant Agenda meeting space to each event. Instant Agenda meetings are designed to be used on a recurring basis – a single meeting room can be used indefinitely. You can choose either an existing Instant Agenda meeting space that you created previously, or create a new one on the spot, directly from your calendar.

The Instant Agenda Collaborative meeting type is a perfect fit for status meetings.

Once you’ve linked your Instant Agenda meeting to your Outlook or Google calendar event, all the attendees will have access to your agenda.

Calendar Invite

Preparation

The next step is to collaborate ahead of your meeting. This is key to ensure that you have everything you need to discuss and resolve each issue when it is time to meet.

Each Instant Agenda meeting space acts as a collaborative agenda queue that allows participants to add new topics at any time. Participants can also review historical notes, decisions, and outstanding action items.  Participants can use the topic comments feature to discuss or ask questions about individual topics ahead of the next meeting. To do this, click the comments icon that appears under each topic. This opens the comments panel where are you can view and add comments to the topic.

It is also worth noting that you can add document links to any topic or comment. The links will automatically become clickable as you submit your entry.

Don’t skip this step – participant collaboration on the agenda ahead of the meeting is critical to success and productivity.

pre meeting comments

Open the Meeting

Instant agenda was purpose-built to help you open a status meeting as I described in Part 1. When you start an Instant Agenda collaborative meeting, the software will prompt participants to follow each of the steps I outlined:

  • Capture last minute topics
  • Vote on prioritization
  • Establish “required” topics

vote and pin

Instant Agenda Collaborative agendas are ordered by participant vote. This ensures that the most valuable, urgent items are addressed first.  However, there are sometimes mandatory topics that must be discussed first and the moderator can use the topic menu to “pin” those topics to the top of the agenda (learn more about pinning topics here). For status type meetings, we recommend that you create a recurring topic to review open action items from previous sessions. This review is very easy because all of your action items are available in the action items tab for the current meeting. If you wish to review any decisions from a earlier meeting, those are also nicely organized under the decision tab.

While it is certainly possible to execute the above steps manually, or by using some form of shared document, Instant agenda makes this process streamlined and very efficient.

Managing Topic Discussion

The very heart of Instant Agenda is the way that it focuses attention on each topic as you move through your agenda. Use the Instant Agenda topic stage to manage the discussion and keep everyone engaged. Facilitation tools like voting and the off-topic indicator help you be a better facilitator. Participants will pay more attention and participate in the outcome when the meeting facilitation is done visually. Participants will correct or add details to the notes and action items, improving buy-in and accuracy. This approach helps ensure shared responsibility and ownership.

off topic indicator

Managing Time

In Part 1, I described a method of progressive time management. This process starts with a short initial time allotment for agenda items and then frequent checkins to keep things focused and moving.vote to add time

Instant agenda was purpose-built to solve this problem. Its integrated timer and voting system make it easy to perform these actions without even breaking discussion. As soon as the timer runs out, call a vote without interrupting the speaker. Based on the results of the vote, either let the speaker continue or bring the discussion to a close. If it’s obvious that the discussion should continue you don’t need to call a vote, you can just add time and continue.

Many people will argue that if you are going to keep adding time you may as well not keep time at all. We have found this to be absolutely false — managing time in this way keeps discussion focused and this process also allows you to check in frequently relative to the remaining meeting time and the remaining topics.

Notes, Comments, Action Items, Decisions

action decision notesInstant Agenda makes it easy to take notes, record action items, and vote on decisions in a participatory way. Even if you are meeting in person (no remote participants), it is helpful to have everyone with laptops open to participate in the meeting. Meeting attendees are far more engaged when they can see the notes being taken, and even add comments of their own. Also, if they are using their laptops and phones to participate in the meeting they are less likely to be answering email or looking up lotto scores.

Wrapping Up

When you run out of topics (or time), use the last few minutes of the meeting to wrap up. As moderator, END the meeting to be taken to the meeting summary page. Here you can review everything that was discussed, particularly action items or follow-up. Ask if there is anything critical that has been missed, and then adjourn the meeting.

Instant Agenda makes it easy for the meeting moderator to clean up the summary before it is sent out to attendees and stakeholders. Take a few minutes to make any necessary edits, and then send the summary to all of your participants and stakeholders. Note: anyone who was assigned an action item will get an individual email notification for that action item. Additionally – they have the option to automatically route a copy of the action item to a task management system (via Notifications).

Any topics not discussed remain in the agenda queue for the next meeting session. Of course, you can continue to work on these items off-line and possibly resolve them before the next meeting, or delete them if they are no longer relevant.

Conclusion

Instant Agenda is nothing less than a purpose-built engine for running hyper-productive recurring action-decision meetings as I advocated in Part 1 of this series. Have you found any ways to improve this process?  Let us know.

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Michael Ball

Co-founder, Product Lead at Instant Agenda
Michael was born a squalling, helpless MVP and has struggled ever since to obtain product-market fit. Experiments have included Peace Corps volunteer, ops engineer, scrum master, product owner, agile coach, husband, father, armchair philosopher, and, most recently, lean startup founder. Michael is still working on his exit-strategy, but his earliest angel investors seem generally proud of his accomplishments.
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