Google Ventures’ Secret Mantra For Super-Productive Meetings

Want to get way more value from every meeting? Google’s mantra: Always be capturing.

Google Ventures’ Secret Mantra For Super-Productive Meetings

Always be capturing.


That’s Google Ventures’ maxim for making the absolute most of meetings, according to the ultra-insightful writeup of Joshua Porter, HubSpot‘s director of UX, who recently worked on a product design sprint–yes, that is a thing, and it is awesome–with Google Ventures Design Studio. While the post doesn’t go into the results of the meeting–that would spoil the fun–it more importantly shares the process of how to make conversation a little less ephemeral.

From what Porter describes, the products of a meeting are the artifacts that remain after the conversation’s finished. So what do those look like? Porter says:

(It’s) about the habit of continuously recording the value from your conversation. For example: If you’re talking about a new concept, you should be sketching it as you talk so your team has a shared understanding and an artifact of the conversation.

Methods of capture

We’ve discussed why you should start capturing before the meeting even begins. Once you’ve commenced, then go both analog and digital with these tools.

  • Whiteboards: On the wall, on wheels–have whiteboards all over the place and let everybody write all over them.
  • Post-its: Little square papers are your friends. Porter says to write down bits of ideas and questions on your Post-its, and then you can stick them to the wall or cluster them later. The awesome part of the phsyical world is that you can organize your notes in three-dimensional space, which could help you to see your conclusions in new ways.
  • Smartphones: Take photos of your scribbles with your phone; access them later.
  • Cloud storage: Have everybody throw those photos in a shared Box or Dropbox folder at the end of the meeting, allowing anyone to grab them when they need them.

To make the most of your devices, Porter says, write or sketch anything that feels important. When you’re comparing two things, make a table. If you’re brainstorming, sketch it out. That way you’re not only engaging your conceptual sense, but your spatial thinking, too. And while you’re in a meeting, keep an eye on all those artifacts you’ve accumulated–they’ll let you know if you’re repeating yourself, which you probably are.

A tip for effective meetings: Always be capturing


[Image: Flickr user Tanakawho]

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.