Meetings. I can hear the collective groan from here.
Your days are filled with what seems like endless sit-downs, conversations, and brainstorming sessions. And, honestly, you wouldn’t mind—as long as you felt like you were actually accomplishing something.
But, when it comes to meetings, we all tend to fall into the same trap: We spend an hour talking and throwing out ideas, and then end up with nothing to show for it.
Fortunately, things don’t have to be that way. There are four key things you can do to wrap up every meeting and ensure that those get-togethers are actually productive—rather than a colossal waste of time.
1. Provide an Overview
Even if you start with an agenda in place, conversations can still take plenty of twists and turns. While that’s to be expected, it often results in people wandering out of the meeting without remembering exactly what was talked about.
Before ending the discussion, take a moment to provide a brief overview of the conclusions you drew and the decisions that were made. That way, everybody will go back to their desks with a detailed meeting recap fresh in their brains.
2. Assign Action Items
Why do most meetings feel so unproductive? Well, because they end up being a lot of talk without a whole lot of action. Everybody’s great at saying what needs to be done—but, that doesn’t mean they’ll actually leave that meeting and handle it.
This is why it’s important to assign action items at the close of every meeting. That way, there’s no question about who’s responsible for what, and you’ll actually see some follow-through on the actions that were discussed.
3. Ask for Questions
Before everybody leaves that meeting room, it’s important that you ensure that everybody has a solid understanding of what was talked about. Does anybody require any clarification or have an unanswered question that still needs to be addressed?
While it’s your goal to keep the meeting on track, you also want to confirm that everybody’s on the same page before you leave people to their own devices. Asking if there are any final questions is a great way to do that—plus, it ends your meeting on a beneficial and less formal note.
4. Send an Email
You made sure to assign the action items at the end of your meeting. But, for those people who weren’t taking notes? You’ll want to get it in writing by sending a follow-up email.
Send a brief message to everybody who was included in the meeting. Thank them for their time and then provide a breakdown of who’s responsible for what moving forward.
You’ll reinforce those action items that were assigned, clear up any confusion, and get written documentation in place—meaning that nobody can claim ignorance if something doesn’t get done.
Tired of meetings that are nothing more than a giant waste of time? Put these four tips into action, and you’ll ensure that those conversations actually serve a purpose.
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Photo of people in meeting courtesy of Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/Getty Images.