You had a good meeting, you dealt with most agenda items, tasks were delegated, everyone goes off and…. nothing happens.
It’s 10 minutes before the end time of the meeting; folks are starting to pack up, getting restless and the meeting teeters out without a clear end and clearly defined next steps.
Other times, everything goes just as planned: the meeting ends well, next steps and tasks are clear, and folks follow up and the work moves forward smoothly.
How can you create more of those meetings where everything goes well?
If you’d like to get the full series on running effective meetings + a free agenda planning template, email me and I’ll send it straight to your inbox!
1. Celebrate achievements
Once you have dealt with all agenda items, celebrate! Recap very briefly what the group got done. Don’t forget to thank everyone and give people credit for their prep work and contributions at the meeting (that might include thanking those who were being critical or offering different perspectives!).
2. Restate everyone’s next steps and to dos
Summarize everyone’s to dos by going around the table and asking everyone to quickly state what they noted down as their next steps.
3. End with a check-out
Just like it’s good to start all meetings with a check-in, it’s helpful to close the meeting with a check-out. Once you do this regularly, the check-out becomes the clear sign that the meeting is over and everyone stays focused until this time, instead of the meeting teetering out. What’s more, a check-out gives people a space to transition from this meeting to the next thing on their agenda. As with a check-in, it also helps the group connect and gives everyone a chance to share where they are at before they go off – that helps with follow-up work and with preparing for the next meeting.
Check-outs can be short and simple – here are 2 examples:
- What thoughts, questions, concerns are bubbling up for you?
- Think back to how you felt arriving at this meeting – where are you at now?
- What are you looking forward to or excited about (chose: personal / about our work together / etc.)
4. Meeting Follow-up
Meeting follow-ups are like a warm meal: you have to serve it while it’s hot. Send any follow-up within a couple of days, while memories are still fresh and before other everyone’s schedules get filled with other commitments – that makes it much easier to do any follow-up work.
As with food, presentation is important, too. Make sure that any tasks are easy to find for the responsible person – I usually use a separate column, or highlight people’s names. I’d also suggest summarizing tasks in the body of the email, so that folks don’t have to read pages and pages of minutes to find their tasks. Alternatively, you can use a graphic template to record your minutes (Link to a print-out coming soon!)
Try these and let me know how it goes – if you have a question you’d like answered, email me and I’ll be sure to address it in a future post.
Of course these are only basic steps – ensuring good follow-up can be much more complex and it usually requires participatory decision-making. We’ll have to save details about that for another day – stay tuned for amazing tools for making decisions together and creating real decision buy-in!