Like many managers, you may think many meetings are a waste of time. Attendees might run from one meeting to another, shifting their attention from one set of issues to another. Or, team members may leave a meeting without clearly understanding what was agreed upon. One way to increase the effectiveness of meetings is by ending with a follow-up agenda or action plan. Sending out clear, concise meeting notes and following up on the commitments made increase productivity and ensure things get done.
Here’s how to make it happen.
Establish Commitments and Deadlines
When finished discussing each topic, take time to agree on the next steps, specific commitments, and clear deadlines. Allow team members to negotiate what they’re responsible for and when they’ll get it done by. Rather than “by the next meeting,” set a specific due date. Clarify that if something comes up and the teammate can’t complete the work on time, they need to talk with you about it. Missing a deadline can affect tasks that other team members are working on. Assign someone to check in at various times to ensure the commitments are being kept as discussed or reevaluated if needed. For instance, “Create a budget for Project X. Take into account goals A, B, and C. The overall goal is to XYZ. The deadline is April 14. Assigned to Peter. Hand over to Sarah by April 15.”
Send Meeting Notes
Create meeting notes so attendees, invitees, and stakeholders can review the conversation as needed. Keep the notes to one page. Thank everyone for their time and effort. Include each topic discussed, key takeaways, specific actions to be taken, who will complete each task, and when they will be finished by. Attach or link relevant resources and documents. Let everyone know you’re available to answer questions. Everyone will be on the same page, have a sense of what happened, and know who will take further action. Email the meeting notes within 24 hours, so you remember the important points shared and create a sense of urgency.
Follow Up on Commitments
Be sure to follow up on assigned tasks before their due dates. Ask your team to let you know when they complete or hand off a task. Or, have them fill out a Google Sheet, so everyone knows what’s done and what’s being worked on. Schedule automated email reminders that go out a few days before the deadline to remind people of their responsibilities.
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