Why you should tl;dr your meetings

tl;dr is an ugly phrase for many. It’s an internet shorthand which stands for “Too long; didn’t read.” Writing it to others immediately gives the impression that you are lazy or ignorant, or at the very least that you are dismissing whatever point they’re making.

But it’s also a great practice to use for yourself. It will force you to think on a macro scale and prepare main talking points for stakeholders.

One of the habits you might get into is that you might take notes during the meeting, but then only ever reference or review those notes if you need to remember what was that during that time. There’s a great method of doing a 30 second review after every meeting to remember the key points of it, but this takes it a step further.

One of the arguments against tl;dr is simply “Why not just summarize?” The issue is that sometimes, summaries could be still be 5–10 points or even half a page. The best tl;dr’s are often condensed to 1–2 sentences. This may seem impossible to do, except when considering the next point.

If your lead developer missed a meeting and asked you to give a tl;dr of it, you wouldn’t talk about the key points for the marketing department. It’s the same thing here. By using tl;dr, you’re forced to think about who the person is, and what points you need to prioritize.

If you aren’t able to create a tl;dr for yourself, then there’s two possibilities.

  1. You’re not paying enough attention/asking the right questions
  2. Maybe you don’t need to attend that meeting.

I offer no solutions here on how to resolve these things, just something to point out.

tl;dr: Bad to use on others, great exercise for you.

Top writer in UX Design. UX, Data Visualization and Data Science. Author of Data Persuasion: https://tinyurl.com/rndb9bw. Substack: dataanddesign.substack.com

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