The 30 Seconds That Make a Meeting

We often talk about how spending just 300 seconds a day on marketing your bookstore can add up to great accomplishments. Today, we’re not talking about 300 seconds. We’re going to focus on 30 seconds… the 30 seconds it takes to jot down a note or idea before it escapes.

The idea was suggested to me by author and entrepreneur Robyn Scott, who received this tip from an advisor, who received it from his grandfather. The advice was simple and timeless.

Immediately after every significant experience, spend thirty seconds to write down the most important points.

After every meeting, lecture, group discussion, phone conversation, brainstorming, customer service experience, or impacting moment, pause and write down what you think will be the lasting implications.

While this can change the dynamic of many situations, I want to focus on how it affects bookselling.

  • In staff meetings, try to divide up “action items” for the people present, and set a time commitment. Even if only one person is performing the note taking, expectations are set for everyone involved in the meeting, and time spent in that meeting will not go to waste. Also, no one should leave a meeting without something to accomplish… whether that means creating a display, working on returns, or preselling forthcoming titles, all should have measurable goals.
  • If you are working with customers and they mention an author or series they like, make a note of it. Then when you call them with a book recommendation, they’ll be flattered that you remembered. This is a very important step in building the trusted bookseller/customer relationship.
  • Has the date or time for an author event changed? You might have received the phone call about this change while you were busy with a customer, but your customer will understand a 30 second delay to jot down the change. Details such as these are too important to be left to memory or chance.

Meeting notes are for archiving. Taking notes on the whole meeting is a good practice to catalog details. However, the purpose of this 30 second note is to solidify that your time is well spent. Therefore, record the main points. Details can be a snare. Saving every detail is the equivalent of hoarding trash.

I decided to try this technique over the past 30 days. It was difficult at times to stop when I was running late, and sometimes I would just simply forget. However, I have a firm grasp on the interactions that were cataloged in my notebook, even without taking another look. The act of writing the discussed ideas and actions was enough to cement them into my brain, allowing me to make decisions more quickly. I used this technique when I was spread too thin, yet I was remarkably more productive.

Go ahead and try this today. After customer interactions, phone calls, or meetings, take 30 seconds and make notes, and then keep the notes on hand for reference in the near future.

Kenton Hansen

Technical Co-Founder Kenton makes digital things. He is a technologist and has had his part in a few startups including software, advertising, and client services. @KentonH