Effective meetings are important for organizations because they help set goals and motivate teams to achieve them. Meetings have increased in length and frequency over the last few decades, driving the demand for meeting transcription. However, according to Ted.com, 33.91 percent of all meetings are wasted and 90 percent of attendees say they daydream in them. The report also notes that $37 billion are wasted on meetings every year in the U.S. The good news is that design thinking can help plan better meetings.

How Design Thinking can help Plan Better Meetings

Why are meetings important in the workplace?

  • Address conflicts: They help address conflicts that can negatively impact the way teams work. Well-managed meetings allow employees to share and discuss their concerns and come to a solution.
  • Promote effective decision making: By involving all team members in the decision-making process, meetings promote clarity and collaboration.
  • Make employees feel connected and important: By letting team members know how their contribution is important to achieving overall goals, meetings can foster loyalty.
  • Puts resources to better use: When goals are well-defined, it can help minimize waste of time and resources.

However, badly planned meetings can be damaging and dent employee morale and productivity.

Design thinking is a concept popularized by IDEO, a global innovation and consulting firm. A recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) report says that using IDEO’s Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit as a template will allow organizations to host productive meetings. Plan Your Meetings summarizes the Toolkit’s concept of design thinking as:

  • Human-centered, — stems from deep empathy and an understanding of the needs and motivations of people.
  • Collaborative and creative — is based on the idea that several great minds can solve challenges better than just one.
  • Optimistic — believes that change is possible, no matter how big the problem, how little time or how small a budget you have.
  • Experimental — it is about learning by doing, giving yourself permission to fail and learn from your mistakes.

Adapting design thinking for events is aimed at creating a more effective, pertinent and pleasant learning environments and experiences. IDEO’s design process to develop ideas has five phases which helps organizers identify challenges in order to create workable solutions. These five phases are: discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation, evolution. The HBR report explains that the IDEO design concept can be applied to planning meetings by following these phases. The first step is to develop empathy with the attendees.

  • Develop empathy: Developing empathy can help plan meeting planners create dynamic, personalized events that take the needs of the participants into consideration. To do this, ask three critical questions:
    • Who is going to be present at the meeting and what are their needs?
    • Who will not be present, but will be affected by the meeting and what are their needs?
    • Given the organization’s culture and environment, what are the overarching challenges and opportunities?

Meeting planners should then approach participants and those who will be affected by the meeting and identify their specific concerns. This will ensure that each person feels involved in the event.

  • Set the frame for the meeting: This task will be much easier once you understand individual concerns. This will allow you to define the purpose of the meeting and express clear outcomes that will connect to achieving it. By including these desired outcomes in the agenda, participants will understand why they are attending, keep them on the mission, and make them feel that their time is spent productively.
  • Design the meeting creatively: The next step is to create the agenda. In line with the design concept, people should be creative while designing and executing meetings. The idea is to infuse a bit of fun into meetings, such as beginning and ending in an unexpected way, using film, images, poetry, or music to ignite ideas, or creating an opportunity for personal sharing and connection. This will help foster a positive team culture.
  • Test-drive your meeting plan: The final step involves drafting an agenda and sharing it with the participants. This will allow you to gain more empathy, come up with new questions, improve meeting design, and boost your chances of success at the actual event.

Recording meetings ensures that the decisions made and actions taken are not forgotten or overlooked. Digital transcription services are available to document these events. Having meeting records transcribed and stored safely will ensure easy access and retrieval as and when needed.