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  • How to improve meeting effectiveness

    Work in an office? Chances are, you probably spend a decent amount of your week in and out of meetings.

    In previous jobs, I used to watch colleagues jump from meeting to meeting with various different departments. Often, the meetings were only useful for one member of the team, or involved lots of dithering about.

    I went to a few of these meetings (perk of the job is that I didn’t need to attend too many), and found them…well, generally pointless. More often than not, they had little structure, failed to resolve an issue and went on for much longer than they needed to.

    So, what are the alternatives?

    • Emails. Got something to tell everyone? Sometimes, an email is better than asking everyone to take an hour out of their day. If no one is reading your emails, it might suggest you need to change the way you’re writing them.
    • Interactive software. There are plenty of interactive software packages and tools around that can help businesses communicate with each other without being away from their desks. Yammer is a sort of social media network for businesses, so people can post ideas for others to see, and comment or contribute. You could also use EverNote, Springpad or Campfire. Get creative!
    • Have a meeting – but give it a time limit: Do you really have to have an hour’s meeting on that topic? Too often, the purpose of a meeting isn’t outlined clearly before, which means half the meeting is spent going over old ground. Set a short time limit, say half an hour, ask your attendees to read the material before they come to the meeting and come with ideas, and give everyone five minutes to discuss their point of views. Anything that doesn’t fit into that time can be discussed over online collaborative software (see above) or email. There’s a great post on Lifehacker about reducing meeting times to just 10 minutes – thanks to some clever forward planning. Time is money after all, and the more time you spend in meetings means less time making money!
    • Keep irrelevant chat until after the meeting. There’s nothing more soul destroying than listening to someone drone on about something that isn’t relevant to the meeting content. If you’re running the meeting, firmly (but politely) stop them and explain that you can discuss that at a later time. Chances are, the rest of the attendees will silently applause you.
    • Outline your expectations of good manners. Tardiness and the constant use of phones and iPads in meetings can wind up other attendees. Regular tardiness to meetings is disrespectful to everyone else who has made the effort to arrive on time, and tapping away through your emails shows you’re not engaged.
    • Finish the meeting with a summary of what’s been said, and a list of suggested actions. Follow up those actions a few days in an email, perhaps with meeting minutes to refresh memories.

    In general, I rarely have to have meetings these days as a freelancer. They usually happen at the start of a working relationship, and the rest of the time I mainly use Skype or email to communicate each way. Obviously that’s not for everyone, and varies from business to business. A monthly catch up meeting might suit your business down to the ground. See what works for you.

    How do you feel about meetings? Do you have any handy tactics for making them more effective? I’d love to hear them in the comments! 

  • Five ways to get a social media-savvy CV

    social media CVI wrote a piece earlier this year for my other job, working at a Students’ Union, all about CVs and how to make them stand out using social media and online tools. Having spoken to a few people recently who are looking for jobs in social and digital media, I thought it might be useful to share it over on this blog too.

    We’re in one of the hardest job markets in a long time, and the number of people going for jobs in social media and publishing is phenomenal.  So, how do you stand out? These days, a simple paper CV doesn’t cut the mustard. With so many resources available to you, from Facebook to YouTube and online design packages, there’s no reason you can’t be creative and make your CV something that potential employers want to see.


    Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas:

    Match your CV to your industry

    First things first, what industry are you hoping to go into? If you’re looking to go into a creative industry, like advertising, social media, design or film, incorporating some of the skills you have into your CV would be wise.

    For example:

    • If you want a job in print media, consider making your CV look like a newspaper front cover – highlighting your best points in the headlines.
    • Want a job in visual media? Consider turning your CV into a video. Have a look below for some ideas of how you can do that.
    • Considering a job with a management basis? Consider turning your CV into a report, demonstrating how you can help the company with your skills. Additional case studies, on a separate document, may also work in your favour.

    Essentially, you need to think about what skills you want to showcase, then work out how to use them to create your CV.

    Use your Design skills

    If you’re into graphic design, or know someone else who is, considering giving your CV a real design makeover to stand out. Check out some of the suggestions on Mashable, which range from an interactive Facebook page to the infographic below. You can also use Visualize.me to create a CV infographic (although you can only link to it, like I have in my sidebar on the right, not download it at the moment). The image at the top of this page is a screen grab from my Visualize CV.


    Make your CV Social Media savvy

    One of the smartest things to do with your CV, is to make it so engaging that it’s shared across social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon and YouTube. Graeme Anthony created an interactive video CV – and it went viral. His video spread like wildfire through social media, and he apparently landed a job within a few days.

    You might also want to look at creating a Facebook page for your CV, or sum up your CV in 130 characters on Twitter (giving others room for a retweet).

    QR Codes, Business Cards and Websites

    If you’re willing to invest a little time in creating a CV online (try LinkedIn, or Innovate CV), you could try a little guerrilla marketing. Try going to a business card provider like Moo.com, and getting a QR Code printed on them which links to your website. Then leave your business cards in places that potential employers might visit. For example, you might want to leave some of them on the table of a business park coffee shop, on the seat of a rush hour train or ask a friend who works in a company you want to work for to pop them into the pigeon-hole of their employer.

    Spelling and grammar checks

    So, you’ve developed your CV idea and created your work of art…now what? Check your grammar and spelling. Then ask someone else to check your grammar and spelling. Then ask someone ELSE to check it for you. Especially if you’re after a writing job.

    Don’t underestimate the importance of good grammar and spelling. It could give you the edge over those who don’t know the difference between their, there and they’re.

    Does your CV stand out? Let me know if you know of any other unusual approaches to creating a CV. 

    p.s Why not pin this for later?