A quick win to prepare for every meeting using templates

A quick win to prepare for every meeting using templates

November 2022

It’s meeting time again, you’re about to lead it in a minute or seconds without much time to prepare. What is this meeting about? What structure did I use before? What do I need to get out of this meeting? Never mind, let’s improvise.

We’ve all been there and thought the same. At least, this is how I felt very often. There are many reasons why I was in these situations. For example, I ended a prolonged meeting and had to jump to another without preparation. Or I worked on something important, got in the flow, and forgot there was a meeting on my agenda. Whatever the reason, I had to quickly switch from thinking about one topic and move toward the next one.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s no way to escape it because of our daily work as product managers. We’re talking to customers or stakeholders, conducting research, collaborating with our team, working on strategies, and the list can go on. You must be able to switch contexts. Optimizing and making it easier to start a meeting is the only way, so I thought about it more.

I realized every recurring meeting has the same structure.

At that time, we used Confluence and its meeting notes template. I levered the structure and recreated it accordingly to our repetitive meetings and saved it as templates. These included for example scrum meetings or stakeholder updates. What I did is I took the template and adjusted it by describing goals and agenda specific to the meeting. I created sections for decisions and the next steps for me and my teammates. And I did this for every possible meeting that was repeated in our sprints and saved it as a template. It looked something like this in Confluence for our backlog grooming:

It doesn’t seem like much but trust me; it’s extremely convenient. I didn’t have to copy and paste the old meeting notes and remove some content every time. Even though it didn’t seem like a hustle, I felt a little pain whenever I did it. I sometimes prepared the notes at the start of the meeting while trying not to look like I was doing this preparation. I think my team knew it.

This little investment of time into the templates shifted all of that. Every time a new meeting started, I clicked a few buttons, and all the discussion points were there. Yay!

From that point onwards, when I started to work on a new project, I set these meeting notes templates as one of the first things. Notion made the whole process even easier, and I felt more powerful than I could imagine. I could see the meetings based on departments, teams, meeting types, or any view you want. I visibly outlined the decisions and the next steps for everyone on the team. There’s a lot you can do. It’s a game changer to start a meeting quickly and have all the necessary information. Most of the pain points disappeared:

  1. I didn’t need to worry about what is the purpose of the meeting. 🤔 Everything was prepared beforehand and I didn’t need to think twice about the agenda. Jumping from one thing to another was way easier with this structure.

  2. Forgetting the key discussion points was in the past. 🤩 ️Anytime it started, I followed what was in the notes and I could fulfill the goal of the meeting. It’s better than asking the team after the meeting about additional information on Slack.

  3. It gave me a sense of stability and consistency. 🧘 My team and I knew exactly what we’ll discuss and why.

  4. The best part was the iteration process. 🔁 When my team and I found out that some parts of the meeting didn’t work, we talked about it, changed the template, and did it differently next time.

I would strongly recommend creating your meeting database. Not only it solves all the points mentioned above. Your team or anyone in your company can always access it and see what was discussed with the most critical decisions.

You can find inspiration of how a full meeting database looks like under this 🔗 link. It includes various scrum meeting structures, listed decisions, and next steps.

This post was originally posted on Medium.