Meetings can be beneficial when proper preparations are made for them. The only problem is that many people treat meetings as an unwanted necessity instead of something that can potentially benefit them. I see this happen all the time. People go to meetings without even thinking about the topics that will be discussed, feel lost during the meeting, and then don’t apply any of the concepts that were communicated to them afterward.
This is why I’ve instituted what I call the “post-meeting wrap-up.” It’s a few minutes after a meeting where we informally get together and go over the key points that were discussed one more time. If assignments were handed out, I’ll review those one more time. The goal is to cover these 3 things.
#1. Review the decisions and steps decided upon.
There can be a lot of information offered in a meeting and sometimes people get lost trying to sort out the data. By taking a few moments to review the key decisions that were made and what the next steps will need to be, I can make sure that everyone gets onto the same page. This lessens the amount of time spent individually reviewing these topics with those who might have gotten lost in the shuffle.
I like to use flow charts to communicate which people are responsible for specific action steps because this gives people a visual reference to understand what their role happens to be. Flip charts, spreadsheet handouts, or your preferred tools can also work here to reinforce the decisions made and actions that must be taken.
#2. Get communication points developed.
It always happens. Once I’m out of a meeting, someone comes up to me and asks me what happened. I want the people in my meetings to have the same answer when they get asked this question. It eliminates a lot of the gossip which develops when different answers come from meeting attendees.
To do this, I like to ask the group what they felt were the most important items we discussed during the meeting. We’ll talk about what the vision of our action steps happens to be, what our mission statement will be as we move forward, and the value of the core ideas we’ve all discussed. It’s not that I want people to hand out a scripted response. I just want us all on the same page, communicating the same ideas from the individual’s perspective.
#3. Ask for feedback about the meeting.
It would be naïve to think that I’m perfect in every meeting. I might forget to send out planning materials. My presentation might have been a little confusing. People in the meeting might not have felt included. Sometimes I can catch these issues on my own, but I want to catch them all so I can make each meeting be a little bit better. That’s why I always ask for feedback before everyone heads back to work.
I prefer asking for feedback immediately instead of waiting to send out an email later because the meeting is fresh in the minds of its participants right after it concludes. An email for feedback is also easy to delete or ignore. This allows me to make sure everyone got the message I wanted them to receive and vice-versa.
Meetings aren’t always fun, but they can be useful with the right plan of action. These are the steps I follow and it has helped me see a nice increase in productivity levels and consistency in the action steps which we take afterward.
Do you have strategies that you use to make meetings more effective? I’d love to hear about some of the ideas you’ve implemented to make your meetings more productive.