2017 – New year, new stuff @ Trackmeet

2017 is the year of the rooster.

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In addition to strutting around the office like the proud fowl we are, we’ve also kicked off 2017 with a series of product features that will leave you happy – happy that 2016 is done (that was a rough year, right?)

Native Apps

The most requested feature we’ve heard via email, chat and calls with y’all? Yep, that would be a mobile app.

So we listened.

And built it.

Out of the gate, our native apps do one thing well (and only one thing – for now) – record meeting audio.

app-calendar-list      app-record      app-playback

Using the Trackmeet Meeting Audio Recorder, you can record, playback and share recordings of your meetings. Connect your Google or Office 365 calendar, select a meeting and start recording! Once you’re done, you can email attendees your recording or share your audio. Did we mention that your audio automatically uploads to your Trackmeet agenda and is available right alongside your notes and action items? We sure did!

In time, we’ll add the ability to take notes and capture action items from within the app (for now, do these via the web client). See something we’re missing? Let us know.

Try them out – they’re available right now on Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Browser-based Audio Recording

In addition to being able to record meeting audio via your phone, we’ve added browser based audio recording too.

Yep – tap on that handy little record button at the top of your agenda and POW! Audio recording from your default mic. This works on your desktop, tablet or mobile browser — just make sure your browser’s on the newish side (have an older version of IE? Sorry, you’re out of luck here)

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Now, you might think audio recording by itself is a little ho-hum. “Uhhhh, OK. I’ve been able to record audio, for like, forever?!”

Trackmeet audio syncs to everything you do in your meeting. Capture an action item or decision? We’ll drop an icon onto the media player so you can seek to that exact point in the meeting. Oh yeah.

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Try this out in your next meeting and see what you think.

Analytics

Last, but certainly not least, we’ve added meeting analytics to Trackmeet.

Based on the data we collect from your calendar, Trackmeet Analytics summarizes time spent in and out of meetings, the people you meet with and presents patterns so that you can gain a better understanding about time spent at work.

analytics-chart

Curious what kind of patterns your calendar shows? Open Trackmeet right now and see.

 

 

101 Trackmeet Tips

OK, OK – there aren’t really 101 Trackmeet tips in this article.

The actual number is closer to 10. Actually, it is 10.

Over the course of the next few months, we’d like to assemble 101 tips in aggregate. And the beginning of every journey starts with a single step. So here we go.

1. Assign agenda topic owners

If you’ve built an agenda for your meeting, its logical to think that you might have a few different agenda topic owners for everything you’re going to be talking about.

Tom is talking about the production schedule.

Lucy is talking about marketing.

Vincent owns the budget topic.

Assign each of these respective agenda topics to someone – their owner!

topic-owner
Select the topic owner via the topic options menu.

Once you’ve assigned agenda topic owners, their avatars appear at the bottom right of each agenda topic to denote this.

trackmeet-agenda

2. Take private notes in your meeting

Does this sound like you?

  1. In preparation for your recurring update meeting you like to prepare a set of questions to bring up.
  2. You like to create a set of notes to guide your presentation during a meeting.
  3. During a meeting, you like to take notes you can refer back to in the next meeting.
  4. Instead of bringing things up during a meeting, you like to take things offline. You remember these items via notes you’ve written yourself.

In general, these are probably notes that aren’t really meant to be shared with others – they’re private.

So, make your note(s) private! Tap on the lock icon to hide your notes from others.

private-notes
Blue background = private note, Yellow background = public note

3. Record meeting audio

Interested in maximizing accountability AND creating a more permanent record of what was said? Record your meetings.

Trackmeet includes explicit support for media and supports playback inside the app.

media

You can record audio OR video and attach to your meetings as needed.

4. Share a link to your meeting

There are a plethora of ways you can share a Trackmeet meeting with others.

The easiest? Send them a link or URL. Do so by selecting the “export” icon at the top of your Trackmeet meeting and then “Get link”.

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If they don’t have an account – no worries, they can still view meeting content, they just can’t edit or collaborate on anything.

For maximum involvement, get them to sign up for Trackmeet.

5. Display Trackmeet on a TV

We, in fact, do this at Trackmeet HQ.

We’ll bring up Trackmeet on a wall mounted LCD TV and use it to help drive our meeting.

Doing so helps keep us all on track AND allows everyone to see updates to the shared agenda in real time.

Works great for all-day or board meetings too.

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6. Add agenda topics for “room setup” and meeting “wrap up”

How many of your meetings actually start on time? Do you spend a few minutes setting up the room, connecting to a conference call # or logging in? How about time at the end to summarize everything?

Block some time in your meetings for room setup and meeting summation. This lets you set aside time for the fixed portion of your meeting while preserving a realistic amount of time to get work done.

Bonus points if you create agenda templates with these topics baked in!

7. Capture action items in-meeting

We’ve simplified action items to make it super easy to add them in-meeting. After all, who remembers these the next day? According to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, you probably won’t.

Hit “+”, add a description and you’re good! Need to get a little more meta? Add more detail after your meeting has finished.

action-items

8. Create a few agenda templates

We know you have a bunch of recurring meetings on your calendar – you’ve showed them to us and we still can’t believe how many you have each week. 🙂

From bi-weekly 1:1s, weekly project update meetings, board and HOA meetings – you’ve got them all.

And many of them need agendas.

Why not build yourself an agenda template or two? Save yourself the 5-10 minutes it takes to build a new one every.time.you.meet.

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Trackmeet also includes a number of system templates to choose from.

9. Use your smartphone or tablet

The Trackmeet web app is fully responsive – have you taken it for a spin on your mobile device yet?

Now, using your smartphone as a Trackmeet meeting organizer isn’t necessarily the optimal way to use Trackmeet in-meeting. A laptop or tablet is preferred. However, this is a super handy way for attendees to keep synced with your meeting AND write notes or add action items without having to lug a laptop around.

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10. Collaborate with your team on the agenda

We’ve seen a A LOT of you doing this very thing – getting the team involved building and preparing for a meeting together using Trackmeet.

This typically involves creating (or reusing!) a skeletal agenda, adding department or contributor notes, maybe including a checklist and attaching some content.

Nothing says meeting preparation like a meeting built together.

 

Phew! Get all those? We’ll follow these 10 tips with another batch in a few weeks.

October Product News

Fall has gripped the Pacific Northwest, where the winds have snatched the last remnants of leaves from the deciduous trees that dot our otherwise emerald landscape.

We’ve been busy optimizing Trackmeet this past month before we jump into some major additions to the platform later this fall! Feast your eyes on the improvements we’ve made to your Trackmeet experience.

Private Notes

Just like a notebook, you probably want to take notes in a meeting that remain visible only to yourself. Say hello to private notes.

private-notes

Using the lock icon located at the top right of your note area, you can toggle any note you add between public and private. In “private” mode, the notes you write are visible to you alone. In “public” mode, they’re visible to everyone in the meeting.

This allows you to write (and export) private notes for yourself while at the same time writing public notes that may be visible to everyone in your meeting (like minutes).

Recurring meeting navigation

See those arrows that appear on either side of your recurring meeting? These buttons allow you to navigate between meetings in a recurring series.

recurring

This feature comes in super handy when you need to refer back to what was discussed in your last meeting OR to jump to your next meeting to start planning it!

Use this feature in conjunction with…

Copy last agenda

Do you have a series of meetings that seem to have the same agenda every time?

Lots of you do. And you’ve told us.

Being the polite Canadians we are, we listened. And built the “copy last agenda” tool.

copy-previous

When you navigate to a given meeting in a series AND you created an agenda for the last meeting in the series, Trackmeet prompts you to copy the last agenda.

That dialog is shown above.

Here, you’re shown a small preview of the agenda as well as the options to copy any checklists, notes or decisions you had.

Time saver? Oh yes.

Add Resources

We made a quick enhancement to resource collections that allows you to add multiple items directly from the resource title itself.

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Just click on the “+” icon next to the resource title to add away. Saves a round trip down the blue FAB button at the bottom.

Tooltips

And finally, we spruced up tooltips to make them a little more modern. Hover over any element to take a look see.

tooltip

 

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The Forgetting Curve and meeting notes

Why are meeting notes important?

Its all too easy for us to get back from a contentious meeting, settle into our ergonomically perfect chairs and let our mind wander off to email or the next fire, or the next meeting.

I can write up all of our action items, decisions and minutes tomorrow, right?

Nope.

Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve tells us we should probably think about those meeting notes or minutes a little more carefully.

(BTW, back-to-back meetings? Definitely a no-no according to time management guru Craig Jarrow)

Why?

forgetting1

According to research first done by Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885, it turns out we pretty much forget the majority of things we learn in meetings (or any other memory retention activity) pretty quickly. 66%, in fact, is forgotten within 9 hours!

So, if you think you can remember everything and then write it down tomorrow… that’s not going to happen. There really is no time like the present.

Block time for followup

This means…GASP! No back-to-back meetings!

The fact is, if you’ve invested time to meet, you should be setting time aside to properly follow up. The easiest way to do this? Block 15-30 minutes in your calendar immediately proceeding your meeting, and guard this time religiously.

Sure, we’ve met a few executives who’s calendars look like dumping grounds for meetings. This should be the exception, not the rule.

No time to follow up directly afterwards? There are a few tactics to address this.

Record your meetings

That’s right – record the audio for your meetings. The world’s largest hedge fund does.  When you forget (and you will forget), refer back to the recording. Ideally, you’d have some way to mark approximate times when stuff was said – Livescribe is a great tool for doing this. You can write notes right while you’re recording AND return to that location simply by tapping anywhere you’ve written.

Yes, it’s OK to have devices in meetings

Contrary to popular belief, its perfectly OK to bring devices into meetings.

After all, we’re all grown up’s here right?

Which means we have the ability to control what we do with our phones and tablets. We’re not all checking Facebook, our rankings in the football pool or peeking at our portfolio. If the meeting organizer is doing her job, she has everyone fully engaged.

Which means its OK for someone to be taking notes during the meeting. This can be done on a pad of paper, on a laptop or via tablet. As long as they’re captured.

 

So, the next time you feel like waiting a day or two to capture your meeting notes, action items and decisions, think again and remember the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.

 

 

Bosses tell us what it takes to get promoted

Promotions aren’t given, they’re earned.

Gone are the days when promotions were the result of being able to progress along specific career paths; the impact of globalization, technology, and flatter organization structures, has changed the promotion paradigm. Today, for an employee to get promoted, she must be able to create and manage her own career path.

That said, here are some of the important things bosses tell us to get promoted.

1. Practice Self-Promotion

“Unless you’re a narcissist, self-promotion isn’t a natural behavior.”

– Meredith Levinson, CIO 

Our parents taught us that modesty is a virtue; just like job-hunting; if your boss doesn’t know how great you are, don’t expect to get ahead.

It’s important to be a “known quantity” for you to get the promotion you deserve (and earn!). For example, if you’ve had a major sales or project win, or was able to come up with an award-winning program, you should make sure your boss knows. This could be as simple as a text message, email or via casual conversation.

Basically, you should be selling yourself and make it known (with subtlety) that you’re eager for a promotion. If it makes sense, send monthly emails to your boss and keep her updated on your progress. Don’t forget to roll-up and share your accomplishments and accolades at the end of the year – right around review/raise time.

2. Bond with Me

Think of your boss as a border guard between countries.

icon_douanes

As an ally, he can effectively raise the gate for you to move upward to your next position, or, as an adversary, he can keep the gate down and block you from progression.

Clearly you want him as an ally.

Take advantage of all the opportunities you find or create to turn a boss into your biggest fan.

Professional settings can be used to seek counsel and imply your interest in getting a promotion. Performance appraisals can be used to talk with your boss about the possible roadblocks to promotion and how to overcome them. Think lunches, social gatherings, hallway conversations – anyway you can get quality facetime.

3. Take on more Responsibility

Bosses are always looking for eager members of their staff to step up.

Why?

To get more done.

Your boss has a boss too. Who wants results. And you’re asking to take on more responsibility? Giddyup.

A great way to do this? Simple. Ask the question “What can I do to help?”

“Acquire new knowledge continuously and stay on top of trends or developments in your field. If you’re seen as an expert in a particular subject, you’re more likely to be needed for new projects coming up.”

 – Alex Cavoulacos, The Muse

Asking for more responsibility (and not necessarily more work) is a good way to inform your boss that you are interested and have the desire to help the department and the company succeed. Through this, you’ll shine a spotlight on yourself. And your team.

4. Be a Team Player

Second only to your boss, the next group you need on your side when hunting for a promotion?

Your teammates.

You can be sure your boss is going to be talking to your team when considering a promotion. She’s going to ask questions like:

  • How do you get along with Tom?
  • Would you promote Tom if you were me?
  • How do you think Tom would work in this role?
  • What are some of Tom’s strengths and weaknesses?

climbing-the-mountain-together

The best team players? They rock at their jobs AND lift the team to higher highs. Is that you?

5. Create Your Own Opportunities

Heck, why even wait for a promotion?

Do it yourself.

What this doesn’t mean is tromping into the HR office and demanding one. We’re pretty sure that’s a shortcut to an exit.

What it does mean is to figure out where your team or organization needs you most, and start doing that.

Not full time. Maybe not even during the workday. But a slow, methodical approach to doing what needs to be done.

No promotion this time around? No worries, you’re already paving the road to the role you want the next time your team is considering promoting its brightest.

September Product Updates

Its back to school time, which means its back to work time for…

Wait.

We pushed out some major updates to Trackmeet all.summer.long.

And we’re doing it again, but this time we’ve pushed out the biggest group of updates WE’VE EVER DONE. (Not that we’re boasting – we are Canadians after all)

New Dashboard

add-meeting

Login to Trackmeet and we drop you immediately into your dashboard where you can get a picture of your upcoming day – all your meetings and any action items you have coming due are shown center-screen. Select a meeting or action item to begin preparation or to follow up.

Connect your Google or Office 365 calendar to Trackmeet and we’ll show all of your meetings here! If you haven’t already done so, learn how to connect one.

Agenda Templates

Based on feedback from our users, we’ve added the ability to apply an agenda template to a meeting AND create an agenda template from an existing meeting.

agenda-options

As always, you can access a plethora of pre-built templates already defined in Trackmeet for your meeting pleasure.

Audio and Video

We’ve included a NEW media item you can add to your Trackmeet meetings! Just tap on the blue “+” button at the bottom of your agenda to add one or more video or audio clips inline!

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Media is great for meeting recordings, podcasts, audible reports, instructional videos or silly cat montages.

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Action Items

We’ve made a couple of changes to action items to make them easier to use and give assignees more visibility into when they’re due.

action-items

Action Items have been reduced to a single, inline element. In addition, we’ll show you any actions you have due today in your dashboard and timeline views.

timeline-action-item

Slack Bot

We love Slack and we know you do too – its the #1 way people around the world export data from Trackmeet.

If you have Slack connected to Trackmeet, we’ll push you a direct message with your day’s meeting schedule. From here, you can click on a meeting title to get a head start preparing for it.

slack-day-summary

Phew! Enough for the update – getting the team back to work…

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Meeting minutes the write, er, right way

OK, the boss or head of your team or organization has just asked you to sit in and take notes or minutes for your next meeting.

Yikes!

Before you panic, take a deep breath.

As daunting as this sounds, doing the notes or minutes for a big (or small) meeting isn’t as hard as it seems.

Exhale slowly. We’ve got your back.

Start with why

In the words of Simon Sinek, let’s start with the “why” around meeting minutes or notes.

Meeting minutes form an important record for what was discussed and by whom in a meeting. In addition, they include what was decided upon and any tasks or action items that were captured or assigned.

Minutes are not a record of everything that was said in exact detail.

How do you know if they’re detailed enough?

A great test for the verbosity of your notes or minutes is to put yourself in the position of someone who never attended the meeting. From your minutes, could they get a sense for the conversations that happened, the decisions that were made and the action items that were assigned? Basically, you need to be descriptive enough to capture the gist of the meeting without wasting your time and effort going into detail.

Step 1 – Note Taking

Before your meeting, you should think about how you’re going to actually take notes.  These could be your working/rough notes from which you would generate more polished minutes, or they could literally be the minutes you intend to send out.

Either way, there are a couple of different ways you could go here – handwritten or digital. Both offer a few advantages/disadvantages.

Handwritten notes are worry free – just grab a notepad and a couple of pens and you’re off! Depending on your writing efficacy, its easy to keep up with speakers in order to transfer the spoken word to paper. The big downside? You’ll probably be distributing everything digitally, so there’s the process of converting all that handwriting – yuck!

livescribeecho

One of the tools I’ve personally used for this before is a recording pen like Livescribe. The pen records meeting audio that syncs to your notes. Miss what was said? Just tap on your notes and the pen seeks to that point in the recording! Very slick.

Alternately, you can capture everything digitally right from the start. You can try a smartphone or tablet to do this, but a physical keyboard is probably what you want – you’re looking for maximum WPM and you’ll need an actual keyboard for that. Laptops are perfect!

There are a plethora of software tools to actually capture notes. Evernote, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Trackmeet… the list is lengthy. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re comfortable using it in advance!

Once you’re in the meeting itself, you’ll probably want to capture who’s attending, when it started and stopped, the meeting purpose and the location.

As the meeting progresses, restrict yourself to capturing just enough detail to describe what happened. Bullet points can be handy for this.

Step 2 – Transforming Notes into Minutes

Once your meeting wraps up, you’ll want to get your meeting minutes out promptly! Why?

forgetting1

The Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve tells us that people retain 33% of what was discussed in a meeting just one day later! So, not only do your notes serve as a record of what was said and done, they also serve as an important catalyst for stakeholders to recall everything.

If your meeting was informal, distributing your notes/minutes may be as simple as sending a link to the Google Doc you used or pushing them from Trackmeet into a Slack channel.

If your meeting involved a little more formality, there are some interesting formats you can use to codify your minutes, based on your personal or organizational preference.

word-template

This minutes template organizes everything by topic –  a nice way to group content.

 

word-template2

This minutes template puts everything into categories.

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Trackmeet has a plethora of meeting/minute templates built in!

There is no “wrong” way to write minutes – choose a style and format that works for you and your organization. Just remember to get them out promptly!

Step 3 – Distribution

Once your minutes are ready, your next step is to distribute them to everyone who was there – and maybe a few more.

As part of this step, you may need to get approval from one or more meeting participants, who can also serve as reviewers to catch any errors or identify anything that was missed.

You’re done! Pour yourself a cup of tea – you’ve earned it!

 

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