Organizational Development Consultant and Leadership Coach

20 Techniques to Improve Meeting Productivity: #19 Writing

March 10, 2014

My last three blogs highlighted techniques to stimulate and maintain high energy.   The last two techniques in this section are designed to increase participation.  Today I’ll describe Technique #19: Writing.

“I know that meetings are designed for two-way communication, but sometimes a verbal discussion doesn’t seem like the best way to utilize the time of my meeting participants. This usually happens when the agenda is long, the group is large, only a few people participate, or the information requested is delicate or volatile. Is there an alternative to group discussions?”

19. Writing

What Is Writing?

As a productivity technique, Writing increases individual participation. This process involves obtaining specific and thoughtful written information from all participants before or instead of a verbal discussion.

Many people prefer to think before they speak. Others need time to formulate their ideas, especially concerning complex issues. Allowing a short time for quiet contemplation combined with asking participants to write their comments down on paper increases individual input and the number and variety of ideas. This technique not only meets the needs of these participants but is also the fastest, most efficient method of gathering information.

Writing can also be used before the meeting to gather specified information from the group. This can further improve time spent in the meeting itself.

When to Use Writing

  • When you need to brainstorm or gather information quickly.
  • When you have participants who are uncomfortable speaking in front of a group
  • When you have participants in the group who tend to dominate conversations
  • When you want to collect information before the meeting
  • When information needs to be exchanged, but face-to-face dialogue is not necessary

How to Use Writing


1. Consider how and when Writing will be used as you plan the details of your agenda. Many options exist, including:

As a brainstorming technique or technique to gather individual perspectives:

  • This technique involves individually and silently writing ideas on sticky notes, and then categorizing the notes into themes together as a group.

As a technique for gathering pre-meeting information:

  • Use questionnaires to gather information before the meeting.  The information gathered can be quantitative, qualitative or a combination of both.  Explain how the questionnaire will be used and the deadline for submission in your instructions to participants.  Ensure enough time to summarize the findings from your questionnaire in a meaningful way.  You will use this information as input to specific agenda topics and decisions.

As a technique for evaluating the meeting:

  • Use a written questionnaire to gain feedback on your meeting’s effectiveness.  This works well when you don’t have time in your meeting for verbal feedback or you think you will get more honest responses in writing.  Afterwards, share the results of the evaluation with your group and describe how you will use it to improve future meetings.

2. Prepare the necessary materials in advance.

  • Purchase any necessary supplies such as sticky notes  and felt-tip pens.


Use the information as planned.  Evaluate effectiveness for future use.


Writing is a productivity technique designed to gather information quickly, thereby using meeting time wisely. This technique also ensures full participation.


1. Consider Writing as a technique as you plan the details for your agenda.

2. Prepare the necessary materials in advance.


Use the information as planned. Evaluate effectiveness for future use.


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